HOUSTON — This is why you love this team.
This is why, no matter what, you never stop watching.
For one night, everything you adore and perhaps even despise about the Oklahoma City Thunder was on display, summed up in 48 heart-pounding, hair-pulling minutes Thursday, a night filled with as much fun as frustration and one that ended every bit as invigorating as it was inexplicable.
The Thunder constructed the best second half in team history in its 104-92 win over Houston inside the Toyota Center.
After getting pummeled from behind the 3-point line and allowing 73 first-half points, the Thunder held the Rockets to just 19 points in the second half, forcing Houston into an NBA record for the largest disparity for points scored by a team between the first and second halves.
“I know most of you didn’t go to UC-Irvine, but that’s 54 points different,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
The Rockets’ 19 second-half points marked only the third time in NBA history that a team was held to that total in the final 24 minutes.
The NBA record for fewest points in a half is 16, set, oddly enough, by the then-New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets in a road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2006.
“It was just one of those nights,” said Rockets forward Chandler Parsons.
The Thunder held the Rockets to seven made field goals on 36 attempts in the second half, a 19.4 percent clip. Houston made 12 of 20 3-pointers in the first half. The Rockets missed all 14 of its attempts from long range in the second.
The turnaround originated in the halftime locker room. That’s where Brooks said he showed his team every Rockets made 3 on film.
“There was mistakes, there was some effort (missing) and then there was some tough shots,” Brooks said. “And we knew if we were going to stay in this game we were going to have to clean up the 3-point line.”
The Thunder did it on both ends.
While the Rockets were scorching from long range, the Thunder spent the first half stuck on 0-for-8 shooting from that distance.
Kevin Durant finally banged in OKC’s first 3-point bomb with 6:51 remaining in the third quarter. It ignited a 20-7 run to end the period.
Durant capped the quarter with another 3-pointer, the team’s fourth of the frame, that beat the buzzer and made it 83-all going into the final period.
Durant scored 10 of his game-high 36 points in the period, tying the Rockets’ total.
“We saw the ball go through the net,” Brooks explained. “And when you see that, sometimes it just takes one shot…It gave us hope that the basket is normal size here. And we started making shots in the second half.”
Reggie Jackson scored 23 points for the Thunder, and Serge Ibaka added 21 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
James Harden and Terrence Jones led six Rockets in double-figure scoring with 16 points apiece. Dwight Howard struggled through a foul-plagued night and mustered just 11 points on 13 shots while grabbing eight rebounds. In two games against the Thunder this season, Howard has produced just 20 points on 9-for-26 shooting to go with 17 rebounds.