On Oct. 27, four days before its season opener, the Thunder traded James Harden, Daequan Cook, Cole Aldrich and Lazar Hayward to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two conditional first-round picks and a second-round pick.
Wednesday night was the first meeting between the teams since the trade and the Rockets' only regular-season visit to Chesapeake Energy Arena this season.
Tidbits from the Thunder's 120-98 victory:
*Welcome signs for Harden included:
“Don't Fear The Beard.”
“Spear The Beard.”
“Fear The Greed, Not The Beard (accompanied with an $80-million bill).”
“No. 13: Your greed cost us No. 11 Hayward, No. 14 Cook and No. 45 Cole.”
A T-shirt reading “WE ARE NEVER EVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER.”
*Harden shot 3 for 16 from the field and had six shots blocked. The Thunder took turns doing it. Blocks came from Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Hasheem Thabeet, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Durant and Ibaka again.
*Cook started in place of injured forward Chandler Parsons (shoulder) and finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block. He also played 38:09, believed to be his longest stint since 2008.
“It felt good,” Cook said of being in OKC. “It felt like home. It is my second home and it was very comfortable out there playing.”
*Aldrich is nursing an ankle injury and was inactive, but was on the bench in street clothes and visited with several former teammates on the court 20-30 minutes after the game.
*Martin had 17 points and converted 3 of 7 from 3-point range. He also had three assists and one steal.
*Lamb played 2:34 and swished two 3-pointers directly in front of the team that traded him before he ever played a regular-season game. Yes, Lamb smiled.
*Harden converted 2 of 5 on 3-pointers. On neither conversion did Harden flash his signature “3” hand signal, but Durant calmly flashed the signal after burying a 3 while being fouled by Harden midway through the second quarter.
*Westbrook began 0 for 3 at the free-throw line and finished 2 for 5.
*Westbrook got slapped with a technical for delay of game. It was the second delay of the game because OKC wasn't out in time for opening tip under the league's “90-second rule” after pregame introductions.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the second quarter, Thabeet blocked a Harden shot and the ball went out of bounds. While exchanging words with Harden, Thabeet made contact with referee Marc Davis, who slapped Thabeet with a technical foul and a game ejection. The call was reviewed, Thabeet's ejection was rescinded, but the technical remained intact.
Here was a statement afterward from Davis: “At 8:54 (in the second quarter) a correct out-of-bounds decision awarded the ball to Houston. From my vantage point on the floor, I observed what I thought to be a hostile act requiring an ejection of Thabeet. Because of the hostile act, there became a trigger for instant replay. Upon review, it was determined there was no hostile act requiring an ejection of Thabeet, just a technical foul for his unsportsmanlike conduct during this dead ball.”
Harden on knowing the abilities of each Thunder player: “Everyday at practice we would go to war. I know what each and every one of those guys do and do well, and vice versa. It's just, I couldn't guard all five of them.”