Recovering from a near fourth quarter collapse, Oklahoma City held on for a 105-102 win over Houston on Wednesday night. Here’s some rapid reaction:
Struggling for a majority of the second half — 1-of-9 for four points until the closing minutes — Kevin Durant made four of the game’s biggest plays, assisting on a Serge Ibaka dunk, blocking a Chandler Parsons layup, drilling a long three and beautifully setting up Thabo Sefolosha’s dagger deep ball. Certainly not one of Durant’s better playoff performances, but one of his clutchest, helping the Thunder avoid an epic collapse in crunch time.
It was over when…
…Carlos Delfino’s 90-foot heave fell short as the final buzzer sounded, sealing OKC’s three-point win. It may have been a prayer, but so were the Rockets chances when they went down 15 early in the fourth quarter. But instead of conceding the game, Houston fought back with a wild 21-3 chance to take a late four-point lead. KD and the Thunder made the key plays down the stretch, but credit Houston for the comeback that made it interesting.
Star of the game – Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook
Neither were efficient (a combined 20/51 shooting), but both were prolific. Durant was good early and good late, Westbrook was good in the middle. Combined, it equaled one good game from OKC’s stars and just enough to hold off Houston. Shake off the bad shooting night, forget the near collapse, take the win and move on.
Unsung hero – Patrick Beverley
Despite the 2-0 series score, we’ve suddenly got some entertaining storylines on our hands. And you can thank Houston backup turned starting point guard Patrick Beverley for that. He was a pest from the opening tip, getting his first career start and hounding Russell Westbrook all over the court. Beverley made a controversial steal attempt that riled up Westbrook and the crowd (seen below), but overall was a revelation for the Rockets, keeping them in it with 16 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, two steals, one block and countless big plays.
Choose for yourself: Dirty or not?
“It was a cheap play. (Westbrook) should have knocked the hell out of that kid.” -Charles Barkley, at halftime on TNT, talking about the above play.
Stats of note
-Serge Ibaka had six blocks tonight. Houston has three in the series.
-Since moving to OKC, the Thunder is 25-19 in playoff games.
-Kevin Martin missed his first four threes, but made his last three.
-The teams shot a combined 21/70 from three (30 percent). Not shy of jacking them, not consistent at making them.
Underrated coaching move
Late in the first quarter, with Russell Westbrook already saddled with two fouls, backup point guard Reggie Jackson picked up two quick whistles. But instead of panicking and yanking Jackson, Brooks stuck with his young playmaker, knowing that it’s not too big of a risk to play your back-ups through foul trouble. Jackson rewarded the trust, drilling two threes in the next couple minutes. A subtle coaching move, that won’t be talked about much, but a good one.
Game 3 is in Houston on Saturday at 8:30 p.m.