Apr 22, 2013, 12:54 AM EDT
The Thunder led 13-2 before the Rockets tied the game at 38, but Oklahoma City responded with a 14-1 run late in the first half. Houston hung around the fringe of striking distance before the Thunder made another 13-2 run midway through the second half.
The Rockets – and the Western Conference – are trying to catch the Thunder, and Oklahoma City’s 120-91 Game 1 win over the Rockets provided little evidence either can do it. Nobody has beaten a playoff team this badly in more than a month (the Warriors’ 108-78 win over the Rockets on March 17).
Higher seeds went 8-0 in the opening games of the 2013 playoffs, and chalk bodes well for the Thunder. They won the West last year, won more games than anyone in the conference this year and still might have their best basketball ahead of them.
Kevin Durant (24 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) and Russell Westbrook (19 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and two steals) were strong tonight, but Oklahoma City’s stars received plenty of support.
Serge Ibaka had 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
Nick Collison made all four of his shots to go with five rebounds and four assists
Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Martin, Derek Fisher and Reggie Jackson each made 3-pointers in the first half. After shooting near the arc proved to be little challenge, the Thunder resorted to half-court shots in the second half – and letting fans take them.
James Harden scored 20 points on 19 shots, similar production to the player the Rockets traded to acquire him. Kevin Martin had 16 points on 15 shots, but he was just a blip in the Thunder’s massive output.
Harden, on the other hand, was – by far – Houston’s leading scorer. A legitimate All-NBA first-team candidate (though, I’m partial to Westbrook in the guard spot next to Chris Paul), Harden must play better, but he also needs help. It wasn’t just his fault the Rockets’ offensive rating was 86.2, higher than only the Lakers in the playoffs’ opening games.
The same issues exist for Houston on the other end of the court. The Rockets aren’t a good defensive team, but they have a couple good defensive players.
And really, that’s what this series boils down to.
The Rockets have impressive pieces. The Thunder have an impressive team.
- LeBron James: “(The Bulls) are a team that’s much better than us right now just off chemistry” 32
- Has Kobe Bryant cost the Lakers Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and others? 54
- Five favorites to win NBA 2014-15 MVP 17
- ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 preview: San Antonio Spurs 7
- NBA’s 44-minute game clocks in at under 2 hours, players barely notice (VIDEO) 2
- Nets coach Hollins on 44-minute game: ‘The change will be for the guys who don’t start’ 11
- Spurs’ Gregg Popovich fires back at Suns owner’s apology: ‘I’m just surprised he didn’t do it in a chicken suit’ 8
- Blake Griffin goes after Trevor Booker following flagrant foul, says he may retaliate in the future (VIDEO) 31