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 EST

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. Damian Lillard drops career high 43, leads Blazers to 3OT win over Spurs (VIDEO)

    Dec 20, 2014, 2:07 AM EST

    Damian Lillard AP

    Lillard needs to get mentioned with the game’s top point guards.

  2. Former No. 2 overall pick Darko Milicic loses first kickboxing fight (VIDEO)

    Dec 20, 2014, 12:02 AM EST

    Former NBA player now trying to make his way as a fighter.

  3. Danny Ainge says uncertainty about Celtics’ ability to re-sign Rajon Rondo prompted trade to Dallas

    Dec 19, 2014, 10:50 PM EST

    Danny Ainge AP

    There are a whole host of reasons Rondo was traded; this is just the most convenient for Boston’s brass.

  4. Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard has torn ligament in right hand, return unclear

    Dec 19, 2014, 7:25 PM EST

    Kawhi Leonard AP

    Leonard was the Finals MVP for San Antonio last season.

  5. Kevin Durant to sit out vs. Lakers with ankle sprain

    Dec 19, 2014, 6:35 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    This is the smart move by the Thunder.

  6. Kendrick Perkins: Rajon Rondo wanted out of Boston

    Dec 19, 2014, 5:59 PM EST

    Orlando Magic v Boston Celtics, Game 6 Getty Images

    It’s kind of moot now, but it’s not a surprise.

  7. Kobe Bryant says he’s not recruiting Kevin Durant to Lakers. Yet?

    Dec 19, 2014, 5:15 PM EST

    Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant AP

    Lakers star: ‘If the opportunity came up, then that’s the time to have that discussion’

  8. Raptors unveil new logo, get ribbed by Nets’ official Twitter account about it

    Dec 19, 2014, 4:29 PM EST

    Nets v Raptors Eastern Conference Quarter Finals Game 7 Getty Images

    Black-and-white version of Toronto’s new logo looks similar to Brooklyn’s

  9. Report: Minnesota agrees to trade Corey Brewer to Houston

    Dec 19, 2014, 2:56 PM EST

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    This gives the Rockets a little more depth on the wing with Harden and Ariza.

  10. Kevin Durant (ankle injury) game-time decision vs. Lakers

    Dec 19, 2014, 2:15 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Thunder star sprained ankle against Warriors

  11. Report: Mavericks targeting Jermaine O’Neal to replace Brandan Wright

    Dec 19, 2014, 1:04 PM EST

    Golden State Warriors v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Sending Wright to the Celtics leaves major hole at backup center

  12. Report: Mavericks “confident” they can re-sign Rajon Rondo

    Dec 19, 2014, 12:28 PM EST

    rondomavs

    Mark Cuban is too smart to pull the trigger on this kind of deal unless he has word he can keep his man.

  13. Report: Hornets pull Lance Stephenson off trade block

    Dec 19, 2014, 11:51 AM EST

    Charlotte Hornets v Miami Heat Getty Images

    Heat and Nets among teams that showed interest

  14. Mark Cuban finalized Rajon Rondo trade while on set for The Colbert Report finale

    Dec 19, 2014, 11:15 AM EST

    Mavericks owner, one of many celebrities singing off Stephen Colbert, had his priorities in line

Featured video

Jabari Parker injury latest for disappointing rookie class
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Martin (6919)
  2. C. Bosh (6660)
  3. D. Favors (6542)
  4. A. Bogut (6255)
  5. T. Jones (6192)
  1. T. Parker (6150)
  2. J. Noah (6136)
  3. D. Cousins (6122)
  4. M. Smart (6071)
  5. D. Lee (5858)