Skip to content

Kevin Durant scores 41, Thunder take 3-0 lead, but Rockets show how Russell Westbrook’s injury could hurt Oklahoma City later

Apr 28, 2013, 1:44 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets - Game Three Getty Images

Kevin Durant swarmed Jeremy Lin as the Rockets point guard tried to call timeout early in the second quarter, hacking at the ball and Lin until a official granted the timeout. That play – intentionally similar to the one where Patrick Beverly injured Russell Westbrook in Game 3 – aggravated Lin’s chest injury, and he didn’t return.

The message was sent.

But it wouldn’t have mattered much unless the shot was sunk, too.

Durant scored his 39th, 40th and 41st points on a 3-pointer that bounced (higher than the backboard), bounced, bounced before finally falling to give the Thunder their last lead in a 104-101 Game 3 win over Houston. Oklahoma City led by as many as 26 points before the cracks sans Westbrook began to show.

The Thunder needed just 13 minutes to build a 25-point lead, and at that point, Durant had 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting. For the rest of the game, he shot 6-for-20.

Working well or not, the Thunder ran their offense through Durant.

Durant took 23 shots per 36 minutes without Westbrook during the regular season. He matched that mark during the third quarter tonight and finished with 30 shots, his most in a playoff game.

Oklahoma City is still finding its way with Reggie Jackson, who got his first career start, and Derek Fisher. Jackson (14 points) played better individually, but the Thunder played better with Fisher, who stayed out of Durant’s way. Fisher had no turnovers in 24 minutes and was +14, and Jackson had three turnovers in 25 minutes and was –9.

However, The Rockets knew they couldn’t simply wait for the Thunder to self-destruct without Westbrook. Francisco Garcia (32 minutes) and Terrence Jones (17 minutes) played larger roles off the bench. Garcia actually played more tonight than he did in the first two games combined, and he reward Houston with 18 points, his most as a Rocket.

Beyond those seemingly preplanned changes, Houston’s in-game adjustments to its defense on Durant made the biggest difference. As the Rockets realized Oklahoma City’s offense had become so Durant-focused, they gave him greater attention.

The Rockets revealed a blueprint for slowing the Westbrook-less Thunder. Down 3-0, it’s probably too late for Houston to take advantage, but Scott Brooks faces the tall order of having Oklahoma City ready to counter the Clippers or Grizzlies, who will likely follow a similar gameplan in the second round.

James Harden (30 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks) played very well, and though Chandler Parsons (21 points on 8-of-12 shooting with seven rebounds and seven assists) and Garcia were solid, it’s difficult for one star to carry his team without the help of another star.

That’s a lesson it might be too late for the Rockets to teach Durant, but it’s one he’ll learn soon enough.

Latest Posts
  1. Nets say Thaddeus Young has a left knee strain, out Friday vs. Cavaliers

    Mar 26, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Brooklyn is a half-game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

  2. Timofey Mozgov’s local commercial is an absolute gem (video)

    Mar 26, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Cleveland Cavaliers Indiana Pacers v Cleveland Cavaliers

    Timofey Mozgov in a backward jersey? Timofey Mozgov in a backward jersey

  3. Tim Duncan bet on basketball, according to his girlfriend

    Mar 26, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT

    Tim Duncan, Mitch McGary AP

    Spurs big man apparently earned $100 by making 3-pointer against Thunder

  4. Pelicans-Rockets nearly had a very screwed-up ending (video)

    Mar 26, 2015, 10:25 AM EDT

    Anthony Davis, Alexis Ajinca, James Harden Anthony Davis, Alexis Ajinca, James Harden

    Referees miss blatant out of bounds call, clock momentarily stops before restarting

  5. NBA Draft prospect matchups to watch in NCAA Tourament this weekend

    Mar 26, 2015, 9:47 AM EDT

    Northeastern v Notre Dame Getty Images

    The best matchup of the weekend may be Jakob Poeltl vs. Jahlil Okafor.

  6. Report: LeBron James frustrated with Kevin Love for not fitting in

    Mar 26, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks

    That might be fair, but what about all Love’s reasons for being frustrated with Cavaliers?

  7. Five Things We Learned in NBA Wednesday: Kevin Love seems to be fitting in just fine suddenly

    Mar 26, 2015, 2:29 AM EDT

    Kevin Love, Zach Randolph AP

    Lionel Messi was hanging out at the most entertaining NBA game of the night.

Featured video

Where does Steve Nash rank all-time?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (7393)
  2. K. Lowry (6542)
  3. R. Rubio (6055)
  4. P. George (5916)
  5. A. Davis (5762)
  1. D. Howard (5687)
  2. L. Aldridge (5674)
  3. G. Monroe (5667)
  4. D. Rose (5623)
  5. B. Knight (5543)