The Houston Rockets took down the Oklahoma City Thunders with a 113-109 win at the Toyota Centre.
Last year’s Western Conference Champions entered the game without injury-hampered Chris Paul in the starting line-up. Despite their missing point guard, the Rockets were still able to deliver with reigning MVP James Harden leading the team with a game-high 41 points which cemented the Rockets’ 7th win in 8 games. The Rockets won just one of their first six games this season and were 11-14 early December.
“We’ve had that confidence all year,” Harden said. “Our record isn’t where we want it to be, but it’s getting there. And we’ve got to continue to work hard every day, continue to get better and grow. We’re preparing for a postseason. We’re not going to be at our tip top right now.”
The Rockets were behind the Thunders in the first half of the game due to frequent turnovers. However, Clint Capela carded a monstrous double double with 16 points and 23 rebounds (10 offensive). Eric Gordon chipped in with 17 points despite shooting just 3 of 11 from the 3-point line. Gerald Green’s slump continues as he only put up 7 points and went 1 for 7 from deep.
Rocket’s early Christmas gift came in the form of Austin Rivers. Recently released from the Suns, Rivers kick-started his career with the Rockets with 10 points in 31 minutes.
“Everybody here has welcomed me so it has been a very easy transition,” Rivers said. “So my whole focus has just been to play hard and just try to help them in any way I can.”
Paul George had 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder, and Russell Westbrook added 21 points with nine rebounds and nine assists. Terrance Ferguson’s underwhelming performance on the court might rotate another shooting guard into Billy Donovan’s line up.
Irregardless of Harden’s step-back jumper, the Thunders were not able to stop the shots beyond the arc from the other players which were dampening the score difference. Thunders’ defense appeared dismantled with poor player rotations and spacing, which allowed Mike D’Antoni’s men to move the ball around more freely for open shots.
“We had some bad bounces which got them a couple of extra possessions which got them some open 3s,” George added.Leave a comment