OKLAHOMA CITY – Led by Russell Westbrook’s triple double (32 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists), the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated Houston 115-113 in Chesapeake Energy Arena on Friday.
Down two games in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs, the Thunder needed to come out with some urgency. And with Westbrook’s contributions offensively, they did.
The Thunder utilized their physicality to outmatch Houston on the defensive end. They forced 13 turnovers and recorded eight steals. The Rockets’ turnovers provided scoring opportunities for the Thunder, catering to their fast-paced, transitional brand of offense.
Westbrook flourished in the open floor, as he distributed the ball and created open shots for forwards Andre Roberson and Taj Gibson, who combined for 32 points and eight rebounds.
Like much of the regular season, however, the Thunder struggled on the defensive end. Through much of the second half, they allowed Houston to score from the half-court at will. Houston’s guards penetrated the lanes to draw fouls inside and score from 3-point range, fueling its high-powered offense. OKC allowed the Rockets to score nine unanswered points to open the second half.
But the Thunder held their stance, out-scoring Houston down the stretch.
They took advantage of Houston misses from the perimeter, which provided additional possessions for OKC and, ultimately, solidified the team’s victory.
In the first half, the Thunder kept Houston’s defense off balance. Westbrook used his athleticism to penetrate inside and open up shots from the outside. The Thunder shot 47.4 percent from 3-point range.
Houston closed in on the Thunder’s double digit lead, pulling it in close through the remainder of the game. But OKC was in desperation, for their hopes of advancing in the playoffs were depending on this game.
The Thunder needed this win and they captured it. With their victory, they avoid a 0-3 deficit and make this series a competitive one.