Sport

Russell Westbrook scores 51, to no avail as Thunder falls to Rockets

Russell Westbrook scores 51, to no avail as Thunder falls to Rockets

Russell Westbrook tallied the most points with a triple-double in National Basketball Association playoff history, but it wasn't enough as the Thunder squandered a 15-point lead in a 115-111 loss to the Rockets.

Of particular importance was a 90-second stretch at the end of the third quarter in which the Rockets went on a 12-3 run to cut OKC's 12-point lead to three with Westbrook on the bench. Williams followed with a 3 on the ensuing possession before James Harden added another 3-pointer for a 104-100 lead with 5:16 left.

But what we can assume is that shooting 4-for-18 in the fourth quarter doesn't do anything to elevate Westbrook's already supreme status.

Williams' 14 first half points and Gordon's steadying influence throughout completely changed the outcome of Game 2. Unfortunately, the Thunder are going to need him to both annoy Harden and contribute offensively so long as players like Oladipo and Adams continue to be neutralized.

Dwyane Wade had 22 points, including 16 in the second half, and Robin Lopez added 18 points and eight points. And now the Warriors own a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series as it shifts to Portland for Saturday's Game 3, just as Steve Kerr's group did going ahead on the Blazers in last year's Western Conference semifinal won in five games. They combined to shoot 6 for 10 on 3s. Houston was 5 of 9 from behind the arc in the fourth.

The Thunder pressed Rockets shooters on the perimeter, limiting Houston to 10-of-33 shooting on 3-pointers. By the time Westbrook re-entered the game, Houston was energized, and the Thunder's role players had just shown they weren't quite ready for the moment. "And I don't want to talk for him because I didn't ask him that, but that's certainly something that's crossed my mind".

It'll be interesting to see how we respond to a rowdy playoff crowd but if I know like I do now, that will be no problem for the Rockets. Throughout the second and third quarters, Houston would rally back to within five or so on multiple occasions, only to watch Russell Westbrook push the lead back to double-digits. The Game 1 between Thunder and Rockets have ended with the final score of Rockets' win 118-87. Houston should continue to get high-percentage shots against this OKC defense and roll to a big win. I'm sure they understand their backs are against the wall.

So, kudos to Westbrook, whose play mirrors that of Michael Jordan circa 1988, for delivering an outstanding season, and more props for the continued excellence during this post season. Westbrook, of course, denied it. Despite the astonishing stat line, it's a one-dimensional offence that the Rockets can contain.

"I don't give a (expletive) about the line", he said before glaring at reporters.

Now that the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder are matched up in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, the question must be answered: who has more of an impact on their team? Eric Gordon chipped in 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting and hit three of Houston's 11 3-pointers. "The one thing he needs to try to get even more into his game is his passing on drives, putting it on the floor, trying to attack the paint, making extra passes and trying to generate shots for other guys". Loud City also did its best to limit the number of switches placing Thunder bigs on James Harden, particularly Enes Kanter, who was allowed on the court only when Houston's bearded MVP candidate was off the court.

LeBron James and Cleveland slipped to number two in the East, but as defending NBA Champions and averaging 26.4 points per game.


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