Thunder 122, Rockets 104
News, notes and observations from Wednesday’s 122-104 win over Houston…
- You knew it’d be a great offensive night when Thabo Sefolosha came out and drilledhis first two shots, long 2-pointers at that, after missing the potential game-winner against the Spurs on Monday night.
- The Thunder scored 101 points in the first three quarters, shot 58.8 percent for the game and tied a season-high with 30 assists. Everyone but Russell Westbrook had a great night offensively.
- The Thunder shot 70.7 percent in the first half. That was better than the Rockets’ free throw percentage in the first 24 minutes (66.7 percent).
- James Harden is back. And apparently better than ever. The rookie had 23 points off the bench on 6-for-10 shooting after missing the past six games with a hammy injury. He checked in for the first time with 3:08 left in the first quarter and got a very warm ovation from the Ford Center crowd. You could tell the fans missed him and knew the impact his absence had on the team. Harden made his first 3-pointer with 11:35 left in the second quarter. Then he made his second with 11:03 left in the period. Then he took it hard to the rack and drew a foul on Luis Scola with 10:39 left. the offense just flows so much better with Harden on the floor.
- But just in case Harden didn’t return tonight, he told me he has plenty of bow ties in his wardrobe and wasn’t close to running out.
- Honestly, this is a game that should never have been close. Sure, the Thunder franchise hasn’t won against the Rockets since 2006. And, yes, the Rockets beat the Thunder the last time in the Ford Center essentially without Scola. But tonight, the Rockets were missing Shane Battier, David Andersen, Jordan Hill and Jared Jeffries. OK, so those last three might not have made much of a difference, but they’re bodies at least. And Battier might have frustrated Durant defensively.
- This was the 22nd sellout of the season. Gives yourselves a round of applause.
- Serge Ibaka was huge tonight. On the glass and rebounding the ball. His four blocked shots helped the Thunder tally 12 for the game. He had two on one possession late in the game that gave glimpses into him becoming the paint protector that the Thunder sorely needs as a last line of defense whenever they don’t bring it on that end.
- The Thunder led by as many as 25 points and never trailed.
- With the win, and the Hornets’ loss, the Thunder assured itself it will finish ahead of the Hornets in the standings. And with a seven-game lead on the Rockets with both teams having 12 games remaining, Houston is essentially a lock to finish behind the Thunder in the standings as well. And with Memphis losing at Golden State on Wednesday, the Grizzlies fell six games back of the Thunder. Mike Baldwin says the fat lady is singing on these other teams. I say she’s not on stage yet, but she’s definitely in the dressing room warming up.
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