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Rockets 95, Thunder 90

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 12, 2013 at 5:57 pm •  Published: December 20, 2009

Observations, news and notes from Saturday night’s game:

  • Scott Brooks thought he played it right in the final minute when he didn’t foul Trevor Ariza to put him on the foul line, where he had made only 4-for-10 and two of seven in the fourth quarter.
  • Brooks’ philosophy was that if the Thunder got a stop it’d have roughly 18 seconds to get a quick shot and make it a one possession game before resorting to fouls late.
  • The problem was that the Thunder couldn’t get a stop because they couldn’t get a defensive rebound. Houston had eight offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter and 17 for the game.
  • That’s an amazing turnaround for a team that watched the Thunder take a a 17-7 advantage (5-0 on the offensive end) on the boards after the first period.
  • Those first quarter numbers led to an 8-0 differential in second-chance points, but the Rockets lost that battle only 20-18 by the final buzzer.
  • The final 4:22 of the first half is when you saw what all the fuss is about when it comes to Houston’s physical play. That’s when the Rockets woke up and the Thunder dug itself a hole too big to recover from. The Rockets had nine of their 12 second-quarter rebounds over that span and pulled down four of their five offensive boards in the stretch.
  • Ariza absolutely annihilated the Thunder in the first half. He had 10 points in the first quarter, 13 points in the second quarter and was 9-for-13 from the field. Thabo Sefolosha and James Harden must have both been worn out from what Rodney Stuckey did to them a night earlier. Ariza finished with a game-high 31 points.
  • The Thunder had no answer for Chuck Hayes and Luis Scola. Hayes had a game-high 15 rebounds with 13 points.  Scola had 16 points and eight rebounds.
  • Strangely, both teams’ leading scorers couldn’t throw it in the ocean. Aaron Brooks was 2-for-15. Kevin Durant was 6-for-18.
  • Shane Battier and Ariza’s length was a big-time problem for Durant. Durant couldn’t simply rise and shoot over top like he does against so many other defenders. And he was as big of a non-factor tonight as he’s been all season — 13 points, six rebounds, two assists and two turnovers.
  • The Thunder’s bench was solid yet again, largely because of rookies Serge Ibaka and James Harden. Harden had 15 points and three rebounds. Ibaka had 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Harden played all of the fourth quarter. Ibaka played 10 minutes, 20 seconds of the final period.
  • With 10:18 remaining in the second quarter, Serge Ibaka blocked Chase Budinger’s shot to the ground. Surprisingly, the jumbotron inside the Toyota Center showed the replay.
  • The play of the game was Harden’s dunk on David Andersen in the third quarter. He got Andersen with a poster dunk so nice that it should end all talk of how Harden’s athleticism is only average.
  • Amazingly, the Rockets bench was just 7-for-24 from the field and Houston still had no trouble putting away the Thunder.
  • It was cool to see Tracy McGrady finally back on the court. He got a big ovation from the Toyota Center crowd when he checked in for the first time tonight.
  • Houston had eight assists on their nine first-quarter baskets.
  • Russell Westbrook drove hard to the rim twice in the first quarter and drew all the contact a player can get without getting the foul call. He could only throw up his hands and look at the refs in disbelief. Westbrook has another bad shooting night but the bright side is he’s getting to the free throw line when his shot is off. Another 10 foul shots tonight.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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