The Thunder led Houston by at least 14 points in all three regular-season games, but the Rockets still managed one victory.
*At 2 a.m. on Jan. 28, a 40-person travel party of Houston players, coaches and front-office members landed in Minneapolis on game day to attend the funeral of coach Kevin McHale's 23-year-old daughter, Sasha, who died from complications of lupus. The team then flew to OKC, arrived at The Peake roughly 4½ hours before tip and never checked into a hotel. All this occurred after playing at home against Toronto the previous night.
The Thunder won handily 120-98 as Kevin Durant had 37 points and Serge Ibaka added 23 points, nine rebounds and six blocks.
Former OKC sixth man James Harden missed his first nine field-goal attempts, 12 of his first 13 and had six shots blocked. Harden hit a two meaningless baskets in the fourth quarter to finish 3 for 16 from the floor. The Rockets were without starter Chandler Parsons (shoulder) and reserve Carlos Delfino (groin).
*On Dec. 29, the Thunder posted a 124-94 victory at Toyota Center, where Houston shot just 39.8 percent from the field. OKC led by as many as 34 and all five Thunder starters sat the entire fourth quarter.
*The Feb. 20 contest in Houston was OKC's lone setback. The Thunder led 107-93 with just seven minutes remaining, but 4½ minutes later, the score was tied at 111 after a step-back 3-pointer from Harden. Another Harden basket 1:20 left gave the Rockets a 116-111 lead and completed a 23-4 run.
Houston was hot early (leading 29-17 nine minutes into the game), got hot late, made 15 3-pointers and scored 32 points off 23 OKC turnovers. Harden had a career-high 46 points and shot 14 for 19 from the field, including 7 for 8 from 3-point range.
All that, yet the Rockets managed to win by just three (122-119) on a night when an overpassing Durant managed his first career triple-double, but shot just 4 for 13 and committed five turnovers.
The Thunder received a bit of good news on this year's NBA Draft, albeit not a whole lot.
Ties in the draft's order of selection were broken through random drawings Friday. OKC owns Toronto's lottery pick in the June 27 draft if it falls between selection Nos. 4-14.
The Raptors lost their tiebreaker with Philadelphia (both teams finished 34-48), which means the 76ers reaped to reward of having one more ping-pong ball than Toronto in the May 21 Draft Lottery.
The Raptors now have a .007 percent chance of being drawn for the No. 1 spot in the draft, while Philadelphia has a .008 percent chance.
The Thunder will not receive the first-round pick this year if the Raptors draft choice falls between Nos. 1-3 and Nos. 15-30.
In future drafts, OKC owns Toronto's first-round pick if it falls between Nos. 3-14 in the 2013-14 drafts; between Nos. 2-14 in the 2016-17 drafts; and the Raptors' pick is unprotected in the 2018 Draft.
The 2013 draft order for non-lottery teams is as follows; 15. Milwaukee; 16. Boston; 17. Atlanta; 18. Houston (to Atlanta via Brooklyn); 19. LA Lakers (to Cleveland); 20. Chicago; 21. Golden State (to Utah via Brooklyn); 22. Brooklyn; 23. Indiana; 24. New York; 25. LA Clippers; 26. Memphis (to Minnesota via Houston); 27. Denver; 28. San Antonio; 29. OKC; 30. Miami (to Phoenix via LA Lakers and Cleveland).
Forward Perry Jones III and guards Jeremy Lamb and DeAndre Liggins on Friday were assigned to the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, two days after playing career-high minutes in the Thunder's season-ending loss at home to Milwaukee.
All three players were expected to be in uniform Friday night when the 66ers hosted the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in Game 1 of the playoff semifinal at SpiritBank Event Center in Bixby.
Tulsa 66ers forward Rasual Butler was named 2013 D-League Impact Player of the Year, as voted on by the league's 16 head coaches.
Awarded to a player who joined a D-League team's roster after Dec. 6, the Impact Player is an athlete who made the greatest contribution following his in-season acquisition.
A 10-year NBA veteran, Butler joined the 66ers on Jan. 16 when the team held a 9-10 mark. The 66ers went 18-13 with Butler, securing the No. 7 seed in this year's playoffs.
In 31 games (23 starts) with Tulsa, Butler averaged 17.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.4 blocks and 32.7 minutes.
Butler has played in 637 career NBA games, averaging 8.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 23.4 points. He was with the New Orleans Hornets when they relocated to OKC in 2005-07 after Hurricane Katrina and most recently played for the Toronto Raptors last season.
Butler averaged 18.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 29.3 minutes in the first round of the D-League playoffs as the 66ers defeated the Canton Charge to advance to the second round.
BY JOHN ROHDE