Any and all questions about how the Thunder would fare without Westbrook were answered with emphasis early in the first quarter. Oklahoma City took a commanding 39-19 lead in the opening period, making 13 of its first 21 shots, including five of six 3-pointers, and all eight free throw attempts.
Durant dumped in 17 in the quarter, drilling six of his final seven shots in the quarter after missing his first two of the night. Six other Thunder players scored in the period.
“No energy,” Harden explained of his team's slow start. “We were playing sluggish. In the beginning of the game … they kind of hit us.”
Houston stormed back in the third quarter, outscoring the Thunder 27-14 to trim the deficit to 80-76 heading into the final period. OKC made just five of 25 shots in the third quarter and had four turnovers, four coming from Durant as part of his brutally cold quarter that came on the heels of his blistering hot first half. Durant went 1-for-7 in the period and scored his only points with 25.5 seconds left in the quarter.
“We got aggressive,” said Houston coach Kevin McHale. “We actually did what we said we were going to do, try to push him to people. Early in the game,
After trailing by as many as 26, the Rockets battled back and took a 94-93 lead with 3:45 remaining. It was their first lead since 9-8.
But Houston turned it over three times in the final 2½ minutes and the Thunder closed out the game at the foul line, with Derek Fisher making a pair prior to Jackson with 12.5 seconds remaining.