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Thunder find a little of their magic, came from behind to close out Rockets

May 4, 2013, 3:16 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets - Game Six Getty Images

For a night, Oklahoma City showed some progress, found a little of the old magic, and that was something to celebrate. And that was something that was too much for the Rockets.

We all know the Thunder are not themselves right now, that their biggest tests lie ahead (started Sunday against Memphis). But for a night it was enough.

The Thunder battled back from a 10-point third quarter deficit, took control with a 14-4 run at the start of the fourth quarter and went on to beat the Rockets 103-94 Friday night.

With the win the Thunder win the series 4-2 and advance to the second round — which starts Sunday in OKC against a tough Memphis Grizzlies squad.

But to get there the Thunder had to find a little of their magic again, which was missing in the couple of Rockets wins since Russell Westbrook went down for the playoffs with a torn meniscus. This was easily the best Thunder game since that injury.

What they found in the first half was the good Kevin Martin — 21 points on 5-of-8 shooting as he was getting to the line and knocking down threes. Martin would finish the game with 25 points. Reggie Jackson added 17 points, eight assists and  seven rebounds.

Of course, this is still Kevin Durant’s team and he pretty much carried the Thunder this series and for the game 27 points (on 11-of-23 shooting) with 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Or look at it this way: In the four games since Westbrook went down Durant has averaged 35.5 points on 51 percent shooting, while adding 9.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists — those are monster numbers from the guy that has to carry a bigger load on offense.

Led by Durant, we say a more focused Thunder team, one that on offense scored 113 points per 100 possessions and looked more like one of the best offenses in the NBA.

All of which was too much for the Rockets. Houston got 26 points out of James Harden and another strong performance form Chandler Parsons (25 points on 14 shots).

This was all a learning process for a young team. The Rockets picked up James Harden in a great deal before the season and he has proved he can be the alpha dog for the team. Parsons, Omer Asik and Patrick Beverly are some good role players (as is Jeremy Lin most of the time). But this was always going to be a learning experience for the Rockets — and I think they did grow from it. This team got better and better as the season went on. They should have their chins up.

But the Thunder have already been where the Rockets are trying to get. And they looked more like that team on Friday, showing some heart n a comeback and eventual win==. Which was good enough to send them to the second round

The Thunder have survived and advanced and that should be celebrated. You can start the new task in a couple days.

  1. mungman69 - May 4, 2013 at 4:01 AM

    How can any of these teams beat the Heat?

    • jimeejohnson - May 4, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      By scoring more points than Miami.

      • mazblast - May 4, 2013 at 3:59 PM

        The comedy stylings of jimeejohnson, ladies and gentlemen! Remember, the 7:30 show is completely different from the 9:30 show! Enjoy the veal!

      • badintent - May 4, 2013 at 4:17 PM

        Elementary Watson. Thank you for explaining that to mungman96

    • mazblast - May 4, 2013 at 4:00 PM

      Seriously, I doubt it. They are the best team right now. The Spurs could stand a chance, but I doubt that David Stern would allow them to win, even if they could.

  2. michaeljordanseviltwin - May 4, 2013 at 5:18 AM

    Perhaps now the Russell Westbrook detractors will acknowledge his many strengths rather than picking apart his decision making. Without Westbrook launching shots recklessly running the offense, Durant gets pushed off his spots and has his entry passes denied. I may want to pull out my hair watching Westbrook but I won’t take him for granted again. He is one of the most aggressive/competitive players in the league.

  3. tomshoe - May 4, 2013 at 6:36 AM

    I’d have to say the Spurs or possibly the Grizzlies/Knicks are the only ones with legitimate shots.

    We’ll have to see how it goes.

  4. jaerba - May 4, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    I’m not sure the Thunder really found anything. Keep in mind the key stretch involved Harden completely taking his team out of the game. He might’ve had 26 points but it was a Carmelo-esque 26 points. 7/22, 4 TOs. In fact, he averaged 4.5 TOs per game in the series and shot < 40%.

    Not a good playoffs for him.

  5. jimeejohnson - May 4, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Kurt: Derek Fisher had a +32 rating, went 4/6 from the field and 3/5 from behind the arc in 26 minutes of play. He also had a couple of steals and 4 rebounds! You have implied that Fisher is a liability when, in fact, he was an asset in this series clinching win. I’m not even close to being a fan of Smell A teams, but I have always respected Derek Fisher as a clutch performer and worthy champion. And I love the Southern California avocado! Have a great weekend.

  6. badintent - May 4, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    Reggie Jackson went deep twice and made a great catch at the wall…………………………my bad ! Wrong Reggie. Reggie played well . Mr. May !

  7. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 4, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    It wasn’t magic. It was playoff experience.

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