Houston was 1-6 in this building the past three years. OKC was 11-1 in playoff games in this building the past two years. So understandably, even without Russell Westbrook, the Rockets entered as heavy underdogs (nine points in Vegas). To win, it felt like they had to shoot lights out from deep and get a transcendent performance from James Harden. They did and the Beard delivered, leading an offensive attack that produced 14 threes, with seven of them from Harden’s hands. And you could tell early on…
It was over when…
…Scott Brooks went with a desperation tactic midway through the fourth, employing the Hack-a-Omer-Asik, and it didn’t work. The Rockets center was fouled intentionally on six consecutive possessions and made seven of his 12 free throws. Not perfect, but enough to push the lead forward, frustrate the crowd and make Brooks look like a coach with no trust in a defense he’s lauded all season. OKC hung in there, but never really threatened in the fourth.
Star of the game – James Harden
Harden was 5/25 from three combined in the first four games of this series. He was 7/9 on Wednesday night. Talk about a change. He went from liability (a career-high 10 turnovers in Game 4) to hero mode, icing his old team with cold-blooded dagger after cold-blooded dagger.
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