Collison didn’t play in the third quarter, in which the Thunder played poorly early and excellent late. Then Collison played the entirety of the fourth quarter.
His game line: 10 points, nine rebounds, one assist, one steal, one blocked shot. Easy call, Foreman Scotty.
* Hey, how does Durant only get two foul shots? One of them off a technical foul?
* Serge Ibaka’s struggled continued. Ibaka was 4-of-13 shooting, Ibaka was a decent 3-of-6 from mid-range, but he missed his only 3-pointer, missed two jump hooks and was just 1-of-4 from shots at or near the basket, while facing. He’s got to be stronger in the Memphis series.
* DeAndre Liggins continues to impress. His stat line wasn’t much, but he played good defense, on both Harden and Parsons. With no Westbrook, the Thunder is a little deficient on the defensive perimeter, especially when Durant gets lost like he did on occasion Friday night.
* Another lost night for Kendrick Perkins, who played just the first 4:22 of the game and didn’t come back. The Thunder trailed 13-4 when Perkins went out. Hang in there, Perk. You’ll get all the minutes you want against Memphis.
In Gran Torino’s defense, he didn’t get to play with the small lineup. The Thunder had to play small against Houston, yet Perkins didn’t get a crack with that lineup in Game 6. Especially when Omer Asik is in the game, that would have been interesting to see.
Brooks did explain why he stuck with the same starting lineup. “I wasn’t going to put Reggie in a position to make two lineup change when he’s the point guard, which is the toughest position,” Brooks said.
“Perk has been terrific, and I defend him because I love what he brings. We win basketball games ever since we got him. We went to the Finals because of him. This series was a hard series for him, but his commitment to still cheer his teammates on in the second half shows that he’s about winning. And playing Memphis, he’s going to play every minute he deserves and he’s ready for that challenge.”
And the Thunder’s second-half start was typically awful, even though Perkins was on the bench. The Grizzlies scored on eight of their first 10 possession and got stops on eight of their first 10 possessions. That has got to stop.
* Jackson was great. Really, really solid. He’s not going to have an easy time of it with Mike Conley in the Memphis series, but Jackson is a gamer. He’s going to be fine.
Jackson had 17 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. It would have been a Westbrook-like game, except Westbrook might have shot 10 foul shots (instead of two) and scored 24 points.
“Reggie really hurt us,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “Made plays out in the paint. K-Mart had a great stint in the first half. We had a really good start. It really kind of got them up, and KD (Durant) made some shots late and those three guys…I just really think Reggie Jackson had a good game for them.”
Brooks on Jackson: “I give Reggie a lot of credit. We’ve said it for a week now, it’s unfortunate that we don’t have one of the best players in basketball with Russell … he’s taken us to places that we are very thankful that we’ve been able to do. For Reggie to come in and step in and play basically four solid games at the hardest position in basketball as the point guard … he led us throughout the game tonight. He made big plays, big passes and made big stops, and that’s what point guards do. I thought he was terrific tonight, nearly a triple double. It’s taken a couple of games. We’re going to make excuses but you lose a big part of your offense, a big part of your spirit, and he (Reggie Jackson) has done a great job of filling in.”
* The Thunder’s best-looking offensive possession came with Durant on the bench. In the second quarter, Martin penetrated, kicked it out to Liggins in the corner, and Liggins quickly passed to Fisher on the wing for a 3-pointer. Great ball movement.
* The Thunder didn’t run wild, but it definitely increased the tempo. OKC outscored 16-11 in fast-break points.
* Fisher was booed every time he touched the ball in all three games in Houston. The fans are still chapped that Fisher refused to report to the Rockets in February 2012, when he was traded by the Lakers. But Fish said, “It’s never about a particular team, but it’s always just about doing my job to help my team win. When you’re on the road in the playoffs, the reason why it’s so much fun is because the fans hate you so much and while you’re getting booed and people say the most outlandish things that kids probably shouldn’t here. It requires you to go to a deeper level and focus and intensity, that’s the great part about being in the playoffs.”
Fisher’s class showed as he left the court. He stopped, took off his sneakers and handed them to a young boy in a Rocket jersey.
* Troubling stat: Asik had five offensive rebounds. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are licking their chops. Houston outscored OKC 12-10 on second-chance points.
* The Thunder was perfect from the foul line; 16 of 16. Man, that’s got to be comforting for Brooks.
“We needed every one of them,” Brooks said. “We are a good free-throw shooting team. Our guys improve. We feel like it’s a very important part of the game. We work on it. It’s not something that we hope to get better at. We work at it everyday. All of our consistent habits are worked on every day, and free throws, we do it every single day, every shootaround, every practice.”
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