Be proud, be very proud Rockets’ fans. You know why? Because it’s official — your Houston Rockets are playoff-bound for the second straight year! Being a two-point favorite by the Las Vegas oddsmakers, this team not only covered that spread but exceeded many fan’s expectations — including mine.
Two banged-up teams fighting it out.
The Rockets desperately needed to win tonight to snap their three-game skid. They did so surreptitiously with James Harden leading the way with 39 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in 39 minutes of action. They took care of the basketball, only committing 11 turnovers.
The Rox needed a hearty game out of him and they got it — his success continues to be correlated the team’s success.
From the tip-off, things were looking up. Chandler Parsons got going early with a key three and a steal in transition barely three minutes into the game.
Parsons ended up with 23 points, six rebounds and shooting 10-11 from the charity stripe. They took advantage of the Thunder’s mistakes early causing them to take the lead 14-4. The Thunder then started to clamp on defense and climbed back in accented by a extremely finesse, off-balance, left-baseline shot made by Kevin Durant. They ending up leading 27-23 at the end of the first quarter.
Going into the second quarter, the Rockets still maintained control. Harden pushed the Rockets lead up to 14, the largest of the game at the midpoint, with the score being 43-29.
A weary but motivated Terrence Jones implanted himself seamlessly into the game along with Harden and Parsons knocking down jumpers, wowing the crowd with his high-flying dunks and wiping the glass clean.
Jones ended up with a double-double throwing in 16 points, 11 boards, two blocks and shooting 58 percent in 33 minutes on the hardwood. The Rockets are now 17-3 when Jones shoots 50 percent or more this season.
Francisco Garcia did an excellent job on his defensive assignment on Durant, holding him to just four points through nearly 1 3/4 quarters.
This frustrated Durant causing him to get into a light shoving match with strong words of emotion exchanged between he and Garcia with about three minutes left in the half. Halftime score: 50-45 in the Rockets’ favor.
It got fierce and physical in the second half with the Thunder getting themselves back into the game taking the lead for the first time 54-52 with 9:46 left in the third off a Serge Ibaka dunk.
It appeared like an arm-wrestling competition of KD and the Beard striving to keep both of their respective teams in the game.
This battle of sorts continued throughout until the final curtain call accompanied with the supporting cast until it became a free-throw shooting contest to which the Rockets prevailed. Harden drew numerous fouls and ended up shooting 17-20 at the line.
The Rockets may not have been able to block Durant’s extended streak of games with at least 25 points but they eked out a colossal win that will work wonders for their confidence with just seven games left in the season. Final Score: 111-107
Despite shooting 7-19 from the field, Durant finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and six assists pushing his streak to 40 games, quite a feat. A feat that is associated with one Michael Jordan.
The Rockets take on the meandering Denver Nuggets next at Toyota Center this Sunday at 6 p.m. at Toyota Center. The game will be televised on CSN Houston and also via the radio on SportsTalk 790AM.