Following Monday morning's shoot-around, Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant reacted to Jason Collins' announcement that he is gay.
“If the guy's happy, whatever he does, that's cool with me,” Durant said. “Jason Collins, playing against him, seems like a great guy. Never got the chance to know him, but if he's happy, that's cool. Nobody has any right to judge. He's his own man, makes his own decisions.
“As NBA players, it's like a big group of guys, kind of like a brotherhood. I know I support him. Like I said, I don't really know him, so whatever decision he makes is something he really thought was good for him. Nothing nobody else can about him. As long as he's happy, it's cool.”
Rockets coach Kevin McHale and assistant J.B. Bickerstaff coached Collins when he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“He (Collins) is a good dude,” Bickerstaff told the Houston Chronicle. “He's a smart dude. He's a good person. I think he's strong enough to handle whatever he goes through. He's got the type of personality, people like Jason to begin with. I'd be hard-pressed to see people change their opinion of him because they've known him so long as a good person.”
McHale said he preferred not to address a player's personal life.
“I like him,” McHale said. “Jason was a great kid at Minnesota, played hard all the time, great teammate. … He's a good kid. I enjoyed him as a person. As a player, good guy, highly intelligent, really knew how to play.”
Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, who led the Rockets with 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in Game 4 in Monday night's 105-103 victory over the Thunder, said of Collins: “It's a bold move. He's his own man and we have no right to judge him.”
Former Thunder guard James Harden scored just 15 points and had 10 turnovers in the Rockets' win.
“I did have a double-double,” Harden joked.
He made just four of 12 shots and had only one rebound and three assists in 35 minutes.
“He had a tough night,” Brooks said. “It was a little bit to do with us, but he did have some tough looks. He's an All-Star player. I thought we did a good job on him, but we've got to do it again.”
THIRD QUARTER WOES
Houston scored 38 points in the third period, a period in which the Rockets led by as many as 13 before heading into the final frame ahead by seven.
“We wanted to play defense,” Brooks said. “That third quarter, that's unacceptable. Thirty-eight points. We don't want to give up a 30-point quarter. They made shots. The momentum shifted. They were pushing up on us. Thirty-eight points is something we're not proud about.”
The Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets' Developmental League affiliate, won their second D-League championship in the last four seasons, defeating the San Cruz Warriors.
The Vipers swept the Tulsa 66ers, the Thunder's D-League affiliate, in the semifinal round.
Thunder veteran reserve guard Derek Fisher has now played 233 postseason games in his 17-year career, roughly the equivalent to three full regular seasons. … Honorary Thunder coach Lorelei Decker, a 19-year-old who is receiving cancer treatments at MD Anderson Center in Houston, was at Monday's game. … Each team led by as many as 13 points in Game 4. There were six lead changes and nine ties. … The Rockets scored twice as many points in the paint as the Thunder (44-22).
*Houston coach Kevin McHale: “It was really important for us to win this game tonight. For us, it was the first playoff win for this group.”
*McHale on Durant, who finished with 38 points on just 16 shots, going 12 for 16 from the field and 13 for 15 from the free-throw line: “It was a really efficient game by Kevin because we were trying to get the ball out of his hands, and the guy had 38 points. It kind of frightens you to think if you weren't trying to get the ball out of his hands, what do you do?”
LIFTING SERGE'S SPIRITS
Immediately after leaving what would have been a game-tying tip-in short despite it being point blank and uncontested, Serge Ibaka collapsed to the court in agony.
He remained sprawled out on the floor until teammates hurried to pick him up.
“Serge is a terrific shooter, all the way out to the corner 3,” Brooks said. “I'm not worried about Serge. Serge is going to come back and play with the emotion that he always plays.”
Ibaka finished with eight points, five rebounds and three blocked shots.
BY JOHN ROHDE AND DARNELL MAYBERRY