The Thunder beat Houston 104-92 and you know the major themes. The Rockets scored 73 points in the first half, 19 in the second half. It was the largest discrepancy between first-half and second-half scoring for any team in NBA history.
Here are some of the crazy numbers:
* It’s the first time in NBA history a team reached at least 70 points in one half and fewer than 20 in the other half.
* The Rockets scored 10 points in the third quarter and nine in the fourth quarter. Kevin Durant scored 10 points in the third quarter. Reggie Jackson alone scored nine points in the fourth quarter. When opposing players match your entire team’s output in two separate quarters, your chances of victory would seem to decline.
* Rocket superstar James Harden went scoreless in the second half, on 0-of-6 shooting. Thabo Sefolosha did a good job on Harden in the first half, even though Harden was 5-of-8 shooting with Thabo on the floor. Sefolosha played mostly without fouling — Harden had just three foul shots the entire game. That’s always a key. In the third quarter, Harden ended up not challenging Sefolosha, instead waiting for a more favorable matchup.
In the third quarter, Harden missed a 3-pointer after getting a switch on Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins, but Perk closed fast to make Harden’s shot at least uncontested. Then Harden missed a driving layup after getting a Thabo/Serge Ibaka switch; Ibaka bothered Harden enough to force the miss. Finally, Harden missed a 3-pointer after finding himself one-on-one with Perkins. Then Harden didn’t shoot again until the Thunder led 94-89. Down the stretch, Scotty Brooks kept Thabo on the bench, and Harden didn’t make the Thunder pay. With about 4:40 left in the game, Durant guarded Harden, who settled for a 21-foot, step-back jumper. At 2:40, Harden got around Durant and went to the basket but was met by Ibaka, who altered the shot. And finally, Harden took a quick 3-pointer in transition when both Durant and Reggie Jackson were in the vicinity and Perkins closed fast.
* We’ve focused a lot on those 19 points. But that 73 number is amazing, too. Houston had 32 points in the first quarter and 41 in the second quarter, when the Rockets made nine of 14 3-pointers. At halftime, the Rockets were 12 of 20 from 3-pointers and the Thunder was 0-of-8. The immortal Donatas Motiejunas entered the game 2-of-22 this season on 3-pointers but made three of four in the first half. When a 7-foot left-hander average 9.7 minutes per game drills you for three 3-pointers in a half, or when you get outscored 36-0 on 3-pointers in the first 21/2 quarters, you often shrug and think about the flight home. To the Thunder’s credit, that didn’t happen.
* Dwight Howard had 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Perkins bodied up Howard all night long. The only precarious point with Howard came early in the fourth quarter, with Perk on the bench. Houston went to Howard four times early in the period; Howard scored the first two and you thought, uh-oh. But Adams bothered Howard enough on the next two shots to force misses, and then Adams induced Howard into a scuffle that resulted in a double foul. It was the sixth on Adams, but that was OK, because it was the fifth on Howard. He went to the bench and the Thunder could play smaller. When Howard returned, so did Perkins and the beatdown continued.
And just like with Harden, the Thunder didn’t put Howard on the line. Usually, that’s OK, to let Howard shoot foul shots. But give him 12 and he’ll hit six. That’s six points. Perk and Adams combined for 11 fouls, yet Howard went to the line only once. They didn’t even give Howard one point at a time.
* Is this some kind of record? The Thunder got 25 foul shots, but Durant got 20 of them. The supporting cast combined for five foul shots. Serge Ibaka got 13 shots and 15 rebounds and no foul shots.
* Motiejunas matched the Thunder’s bench scoring himself, with 15 points. The Thunder won’t win many games with 15 bench points.