The Thunder won, but not without some rough sailing. The Thunder went to the wire against a team that is overmatched in size and talent, and the grades reflect an uneasy performance:
DEFENSIVE REBOUNDING: D. The numbers were ugly for the Thunder. Houston's 6-foot-1 sparkplug, Patrick Beverley, had more rebounds (12) than Serge Ibaka (11) and more than Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison combined (nine). The Rockets had 21 offensive rebounds and 27 second-chance points. In the third quarter, nine of Houston's 17 points came on second chances. Perhaps the game's most frustrating play for the Thunder came late in the second quarter, when Beverley, among three much-taller Thunder players, tipped a Carlos Delfino miss. The tip rolled off, and Beverley still got the offensive rebound and a putback.
BIG LINEUP: B. We all want Scotty Brooks to use his small lineup when other teams go small, but the Thunder's big lineup clearly was more effective in Game 2. Brooks used two interior players for 26:31 — and the Thunder outscored Houston 56-46 during that time. The Thunder went small for 21:29 and was outscored 56-49. Among Thunder starters, the best plus-minus belonged to Perkins — OKC outscored the Rockets by eight points with Gran Torino on the court. The only negative for the big lineup was that it still allowed the Rockets to dominate the boards.
BROTHERLY LOVE: C. Referee Danny Crawford conspicuously chewed out Thunder official scorer Chris Doyle during the Heat game on Valentine's Day. But in pregame Wednesday, Crawford came over and gave Doyle a hearty handshake, a big smile and finally a hug. That was the end of the pleasantries. Russell Westbrook was banged up when Beverley popped him going for a steal while Westbrook was signaling for a timeout. Westbrook later shoved aside Beverley's helping hand when Westbrook took a tumble. And Perkins knocked the wind out of James Harden with a clearing elbow that led to an easy Perk bucket.
OFFENSIVE PHILOSOPHY: D. The Thunder ended up with a decent game offensively — 105 points on 96 possessions, which was close to its season average of 1.1 points per possession. But the Thunder made it hard on itself by not going inside. The Thunder had just 30 paint points. Ibaka made five of six shots but only once was tossed the ball while near the basket. The Thunder took 35 3-pointers, which was a season high by SIX. The Thunder has a big size advantage on the Rockets. OKC needs to take advantage.
SIDEKICK 3-POINT SHOOTING: B. Kevin Durant and Westbrook combined to make just three of 16 3-pointers. But the Thunder was saved by Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha (each 3-of-7) and Reggie Jackson (2-of-4).
HALFCOURT DEFENSE: B. The Thunder's defense actually was solid most of the night. The Thunder hounded Harden and Chandler Parsons into a combined 16 of 47 shots. The Rockets shot below 40 percent (39.6) as a team, and on Houston's first shot of a possession, the Rockets made just 26 of 75. Alas, the Rockets lived off second-chance points.
TRANSITION DEFENSE: A. The Rockets had just 14 fast-break points. They had 20 in Game 1. Houston loves to run, but the Thunder is getting back on defense. One downside is that means the Thunder can't crash the offensive boards, despite a major size advantage. The Thunder had just 11 offensive rebounds and only 15 second-chance points.