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Odds favor the Thunder, but Houston has other ideas

The odds are great that the Thunder wins this series. But on a night that the boys in blue took that significant statistical edge with a 105-102 victory, this series got interesting.
by Jenni Carlson Published: April 24, 2013

The Rockets went small, starting Beverley instead of Greg Smith. Harden admitted that they weren't sure how the small lineup would work against the Thunder, but it opened up space in the lane.

“When it gets jammed up for us offensively,” Rocket coach Kevin McHale said, “we struggle.”

That wasn't a problem Wednesday. The Rockets got to the basket time and again.

Houston's points-in-the-paint advantage: 50 to 30.

Yikes.

And while the small-ball lineup helped the Rockets get to the basket, it didn't hurt them on the glass. Houston out-rebounded Oklahoma City 57-40, including grabbing 21 offensive rebounds that led to 27 second-chance points.

How is that rebounding disparity possible?

Houston's smaller guys got in there and mixed it up. Harden grabbed 11 rebounds while Beverley snagged 12.

The dude is only 6-foot-1, 185 pounds.

But clearly, he isn't afraid. Then again, he's been through some tough experiences. He spent the last couple years playing overseas and was actually playing in St. Petersburg, Russia, in December when the Rockets called on him.

Going toe-to-toe against Westbrook doesn't seem so difficult for a guy who's been down a tough road like that.

Spurred by Beverley, the Rockets showed a tenacity in Game 2 that was totally absent from Game 1. It didn't earn them a coveted playoff win on the road — the Thunder got clutch plays from a bunch of different guys — but the completion of this series has changed.

“It should be a fun Game 3,” Durant said.

History says the Thunder will win in the end, but what happens between now and then should be nothing but interesting.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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