Houston outscored the Thunder 27-15 on second-chance points and 50-30 in the paint thanks to baskets that came from spreading the floor and leaving the lane far less congested.
“It doesn't add up other than it did add up,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said when asked to explain the rebounding discrepancy. “They got the rebounds. This is something we've talked about all year. We have to do a much better job. We can't be the bigger team and be the team that gives up (18) rebounds offensively.”
Thanks in large part to McHale's decision-making and Beverley's relentless effort, Wednesday's contest had zero resemblance to Game 1, which the Thunder dominated 120-91 on Sunday night.
“Patrick's a tough little guy. He plays hard. He competes,” McHale said. “It didn't take bumping knees with Russell to get excited. He plays excited in practice. He's just hard-working, really a nice kid.
“In December, he was in St. Petersburg, Russia, and now he's starting in a playoff game. It's a pretty cool story for him. He's a great young man. He's a tough, tough little guy from Chicago. He's going to fight you for it.”
Game 3 is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Toyota Center in Houston. Look for the Rockets to try the same formula, although the status of starting guard Jeremy Lin is uncertain due to a shoulder contusion that kept him out the entire second half Wednesday.
“When you play a team like the Thunder, you've got to try some different stuff,” McHale said. “We went small, played zone some. I just thought we could match up and try to take away some of their perimeter shots.
“We're not a perfect team by any stretch of the imagination, but they'll fight. They're a bunch of scrapers. They'll fight you for it. I knew our team would play well today because that's who they are.”
Former Thunder sixth man James Harden had a game-high 36 points (9 for 24 from the field) and converted 17 of 20 free throws.