Kevin Durant thrilled the crowd for three quarters at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday night.
It took awhile for the other Thunder players to get around to it, though.
By that time, it was too late.
With Russell Westbrook still out of action but back watching his teammates play, Durant carried the Thunder but it wasn't enough as Houston stayed alive with a 107-100 win in front of 18,203 in Game 5.
Durant scored 36 but was held scoreless in the final quarter and picked up a technical foul in the final minute as the frustration started to show.
The rest of the Thunder players shot just 25 for 63 from the floor.
The Thunder was just 8 of 33 from behind the 3-point line while Houston hit 14 3-pointers.
“That's a bad combination when they're hitting threes and we're not hitting threes,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
Former Thunder star James Harden, who was said to be a game-time decision earlier in the day with flu-like symptoms, scored 31 for the Rockets.
“All together, we've got to do a better job of bringing more energy on the defensive end,” Durant said. “The offense will take care of itself.”
Harden missed the Rockets' shootaround, and he spent most of the day sleeping before helping Houston stay alive with the win.
The series resumes with Game 6 at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Houston (ESPN2). If the Thunder loses that one, they would return home for a deciding Game 7 on Sunday, facing the prospect of becoming the first team in NBA history to lose a series after leading 3-0.
That prospect seemed impossible before an injury to Westbrook in Game 2 ended his season.
Instead of being on the court with the Thunder, as he had in every game of the franchise's history before the injury, Westbrook watched from a suite.
When he was shown on the video board early in the game, Westbrook drew a wild round of applause. He even was wearing the T-shirt placed on every seat in the arena before the game.
The reception for Houston's Patrick Beverley was completely different.
It was Beverley's steal attempt as Westbrook tried to call timeout that led to the injury a week earlier.
Beverley was booed heavily during introductions and booed every time he touched the ball for the remainder of the game.
“I tried to not hear the boos,” Beverley said.
The boos exceeded those doled out last year by Thunder fans to Metta World Peace in the playoffs after the Lakers' star caught then-Thunder star Harden with an elbow in a late regular-season game.
The Thunder cut the deficit to as little as six in the final five minutes but kept fouling Houston's Omer Asik, and Asik hit enough free throws to keep the Rockets in control.
Asik was 11 of 16 from the free-throw line in the fourth and finished with 21 points.
“That's a strategy we don't use often,” Brooks said. “We used it last year against the Spurs.
“But he hit his shots, give him credit.”