HOUSTON — Scott Brooks is turning into some kind of motivational speaker.
But the Oklahoma City Thunder coach would love it if he didn’t have to.
Listless first-half performances lately have forced Brooks to fire into his players in the halftime locker room. And at this rate, the coach might run out of material before the curtain is lifted on the season’s second half.
For now, though, Brooks’ tongue-lashings are working. His halftime speech Wednesday helped spur the Thunder to a 118-112 win at Houston. The win was the Thunder’s third straight and snapped the franchise’s 11-game road losing streak against the Rockets, which had dated to February 2005.
Afterward, Brooks was all smiles, joking about how much he had heard in the past two days about Houston’s home dominance over the Thunder.
“I’ve been here a long time,” said Nick Collison, a rookie with the Seattle SuperSonics the last time the franchise won at Houston. “We’ve had a lot of games that we seemed to have given away in the end. There were a lot of tough losses here so it’s nice to finally get a win.”
The Thunder almost threw away Wednesday’s win — twice.
Oklahoma City first allowed a Houston team playing without leading scorer Kevin Martin (sprained wrist) to take a 54-52 lead at the half. The Rockets, playing with just one standout low-post scorer in Luis Scola, had registered 36 of their points in the paint, toying with the Thunder by scoring effortlessly at the rim.
Thank goodness for halftime.
Brooks’ dressing down in the dressing room — the details of which remained in that room —sparked the Thunder to a turnaround effort highlighted by Houston’s 25 third-quarter points. OKC outscored the Rockets by five in the period and turned four Rockets turnovers into eight points.
An 11-0 run soon followed in the final frame, turning a 96-94 lead into a 107-94 margin with 2:52 remaining. Keying the run was the Thunder’s ability to hold the Rockets without a field goal for four minutes. And at that point, the Rockets had scored just 40 points on 45 percent shooting in the second half.
Box score: Thunder vs. Houston