OKC entered the fourth quarter ahead 78-77. The Thunder then held the Rockets to six of 19 shooting while forcing four turnovers. Houston was just 3-for-14 from the field during a 10-minute stretch in which the Thunder turned an 82-79 lead into a 14-point margin inside the final minute.
“I thought the biggest thing was every pass was contested,” Brooks said. “Every shot was contested. Our guys got into ‘em. I told them in the third quarter break that if your man doesn't feel you, you're not doing your job.”
On this night, not reporting for duty didn't appear to be an option.
Six players scored in double figures for the Thunder, led by a game-high 27 points from Kevin Durant. He added eight rebounds and six assists.
Reggie Jackson, in his fourth career start as Russell Westbrook's replacement, scored 17 points with seven rebounds and eight assists. But the key was the Thunder's role players finally showing a pulse.
Kevin Martin and Derek Fisher won honors for most significant among the supporting cast. Two nights after combining to score 11 points on 3-for-16 shooting, they dumped in 35 points on 11-for-21 shooting.
Martin showed signs of life from the start, scoring nine first-quarter points, making both his shot attempts and all four of his free throws in the opening frame. He had more field goals in his first nine minutes than he had in 23 minutes Friday, when he missed nine of his 10 attempts in Game 5.
“I believed in him,” Brooks said of Martin.
Thanks in large part to Martin's spark off the bench, the Thunder survived yet another hot start by the Rockets. In sticking with the theme of the previous two games, Houston jumped to a 15-4 lead in first five minutes, which meant the Thunder at that point had been outscored 64-30 in that window over the last five halves.
OKC outscored Houston 32-25 in the second period and took a 58-54 halftime lead.
That's when Brooks pulled his lone but biggest surprise.
He changed his first five for the start of the second half, sitting starting center Kendrick Perkins and inserting second-year energizer DeAndre Liggins.
But the bold adjustment couldn't prevent yet another frustrating start in the third quarter, a beginning in which the Rockets used a 14-4 run to wrestle back a 10-point lead. The Thunder, though, closed the period on a 16-5 run before quickly putting the finishing touch on the series in the final frame and moving on to face Memphis.