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Kevin Durant & Thunder solve Rockets’ gameplan; Chandler Parsons comes up big in Rockets’ win

Apr 30, 2013, 1:31 AM EDT

Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant AP

Chandler Parsons stood on the court and said, “It’s unbelievable.”

Moments ago, Serge Ibaka laid on the same court court and covered his eyes with both hands before making his body limp as two of his teammates tried to pick him. A few feet away, Reggie Jackson, knocked to the ground, sat up and reached across his body to smack the floor softly. Derek Fisher crouched down and then landed flat on his stomach. Thabo Sefolosha threw up his arms. Kevin Durant licked his lips and stared straight ahead.

Certainly, those Thunder players also found it unbelievable.

But here is the most unbelievable part of the Rockets’ 105-103 Game 4 win over Oklahoma City tonight: Houston’s plan failed.

The Thunder made the first move with Russell Westbrook out, running all their offense through Durant in Game 3. He took 30 shots and scored 41 points.

The Rockets countered by double-, triple- and even quadruple-teaming Durant. Initially, they were successful. Durant forced opportunities, and Oklahoma City’s offense struggled as a result. But eventually Durant became more patient, and Thunder’s scoring took off.

The Rockets kept focusing on Durant, though, throwing a physical defense at him. Durant committed seven turnovers, including two two charges, but he also drew 13 fouls. That seemed to be just how Houston wanted it.

But the plan did not work. Yes, the Rockets held Durant to 16 shots, but he scored 38 points. Durant also had six assists, and his teammates made 9-of-17 3-pointers with him on the floor.

So how did the Rockets win?

It wasn’t because of James Harden, who had more turnovers (10) than field goals (4), rebounds (1) and assists (3) combined.

Again, how did the Rockets win?

Their complementary players – led by Parsons (27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists) – were awesome.

Carlos Delinfo made 3-of-5 3-pointers and dunked on Durant. Omer Asik had 17 points and 14 rebounds. Francisco Garcia made 3-of-7, Patrick Beverly 2-of-4 and Aaron Brookes 1-of-1 from beyond the arc. Houston’s bench players had so much swagger tonight, they could send the excess to the early-season Clippers, who lacked confidence in comparison.

Parsons especially picked a heck of a time for the best game of his career. He scored inside (7-of-9 in the restricted area) and out (3-of-6 on 3-pointers), drove and spotted up, dished and boarded. He was just incredible.

But, despite all the focus on him, so was Durant.

Even Durant playing within himself still meant plenty of shots that wouldn’t be reasonable for other players.

Down seven points in the final two minutes, Durant pulled up for a 3-pointer. Thunder down four with 1:42 left.

On Oklahoma City’s next possession, Durant crossed over Parsons and Brooks on the perimeter, drove and dunked over Asik and Delfino. Thunder down two with 1:13 left.

But Durant stayed true to Oklahoma City’s adjusted gameplan. Even on the game’s final play, when he ran out of space, Durant passed to Reggie Jackson. Jackson drove to the rim and was probably fouled by Asik, but it wasn’t called, and Serge Ibaka’s putback just missed as the buzzer sounded.

Durant’s last five points were the only five scored by either team in the final two minutes. He wasn’t the hero tonight, but the stage is set for him to fill that role soon.

  1. livingsacrifice86 - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:28 AM

    Is Harden allergic to big moments? Game 3 and game 4, it seemed as though he either turns it over or misses badly in big moments. Also, that Parsons kid is pretty dang good

  2. badintent - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:35 AM

    How did Ibaka miss that layup from point blake range ?
    Herr Stern:”Our sponsors need to run more TV commericals. Play more games. That is all “

    • melkipershero - Apr 30, 2013 at 8:47 AM

      Wow. You think Ibaka missed because of Stern? I mean.. wow. Maybe if they called some crazy offensive foul or something, but he missed a layup. He damn sure wanted to make it.

  3. 00maltliquor - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:53 AM

    What a steal Chandler Parsons was a few years back in the 2nd round. I love his all-around game. Glad HOU didn’t get the broom. Let’s get a few more guys!

  4. trbowman - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:56 AM

    If you’re the Rockets I think you have to feel good that you still won despite Harden playing such an atrocious game. If Harden plays like his usual self and the complimentary guys show up again, this series has a good chance of going to a sixth game.

  5. thekingdave - Apr 30, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    Eh, not a big fan of your write up of either game in Houston but oh well. I got a picture with James Goldstein so I was playing with house money.

  6. flyrocket31 - Apr 30, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    If Harden plays anywhere near as he did in the regular season, the Rockets can win this series. OKC is fulnerable. Just stop giving up a ton of open shots! and Asik is doing what hes supposed to. lock down the paint on D. GO ROCKETS!

  7. hollymeus - Apr 30, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    so many home advantages…

  8. biggredbird76 - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    It is not that OKC solved the Rockets problem. It was that K Durant is 1 of thee if not thee best scorer in the NBA. The Rockets killed themselves by not going to the basket consistently. James Harden settled for 3’s with guys like D Fisher guarding him. For the most part Durant deferred. Jackson the pg for OKC shot more times than Durant. HOU can live with that. Lets not forget the lopsided refereeing as well. The refs were so inconsistent in that third quarter missing calls on both ends of the court.

    • melkipershero - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      I’d say with how effecient he is at shooting all over, Durant is the best scorer.

      And about NBA refs, well, they’re pretty much always inconsistent.

    • xLith - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      I agree. They played with absolute fire in the 3RD quarter. I thought Parsons took over and then let off when he finally got back in the game in the 4TH. They just played isolation near the end and should have kept moving the ball and attacking the rim instead of taking spot up, guarded jumpers.

  9. magicbucs - Apr 30, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Great game by Chandler Parsons! My Lake Howell high school alum. Making us silver hawks proud

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