Derek Fisher drilled a three in closing minutes, one of his five on the night, and cut the Rockets dwindling lead to three. Except he didn’t, as it was shown on replay moments later that the shot clock buzzer went off right before Fisher released it. Points off the boards. Houston still up six. And that nullification would prove to be huge, as Kevin Durant’s valiant comeback effort fell two points short.
It was over when…
…Reggie Jackson crashed through the lane, moments after receiving the ball from a double-teamed Durant, and missed a contested layup in the final seconds with the Thunder trailing by two. Serge Ibaka had a relatively easy shot at a putback right before the buzzer, but left it short, giving Houston its first win of the series.
Star of the game – Chandler Parsons
James Harden was awful, going 4/12 shooting with five fouls and a career-high 10 turnovers. Knowing that, you’d think the Rockets would have lost by 20. But Chandler Parsons played the most important game of his career, matching Kevin Durant (who was incredible) play-for-play and finishing with 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Great performance when his team needed him most. Houston will likely bow out soon, but Parsons has emerged as one of the league’s emerging stars.
Player of game – Kevin Durant
Durant had 10 eyes and two defenders on him at all times. Houston’s clear strategy was to stop Durant at all costs, make him give up the ball. Rockets coach Kevin McHale admitted as much afterward. But KD wouldn’t be denied, willing his team to the brink of a sweep with 38 points (on 12/16 shooting), eight rebounds and six assists, despite little help from his frontcourt.
Trending upward – Derek Fisher’s contributions
Don’t look now, but Derek Fisher is hot, really hot, from three and giving the Thunder great minutes. Overall, he’s 8-of-13 from deep in the series and was one of the main reasons (besides Durant) that OKC even had a chance in this one.
Trending downward – Perkins fit
Similar to when they play the Heat, Kendrick Perkins just doesn’t matchup well with the Rockets. Houston goes small and OKC’s big man is deemed useless or, even worse, a liability. Take a look at his final line on Monday: 0 points, 1 rebound, 4 fouls, 4 turnovers and a plus/minus of -17 in nine minutes.
Stats of note
-Kevin Durant has scored 20+ points in 30 consecutive playoff games.
-Despite the loss, OKC is 11-2 in first round games the past three seasons.
-The Rockets shot 12/27 from three (44 percent), their best shooting performance in the series.
Oh my. Delfino on Durant. I wasn’t sure this was physically possible.
Durant with a little bit of payback. Scratch that, a lot of payback.
Photo of the game
Russell Westbrook, watching from home
Game 5 in OKC on Wednesday. Tip at 8:30 p.m. on TNT.