Thunder rally for 104-92 win over Rockets
HOUSTON (AP) — Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks showed his team each of the 12 3-pointers Houston made in its 73-point first half Thursday night.
The halftime video session worked. The Rockets didn’t make another 3, and were held to a franchise-low in points in the second half of the Thunder’s 104-92 win.
Kevin Durant scored 36 points and Reggie Jackson added 23 to lift Oklahoma City to the victory.
James Harden and Terrence Jones scored 16 points apiece for Houston, which had just 19 second-half points after its season-best performance in the first half — setting an NBA record for the largest scoring differential between two halves. Houston’s 19-point second half is tied for the second-fewest points in a second half in NBA history.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Brooks said. “That’s inspiring.”
Houston coach Kevin McHale was troubled by his team’s inability to build on its great first half.
“We had a terrible time shooting the ball, laying it in, making simple plays,” McHale said. “We couldn’t sustain anything offensively in the second half. Give them credit. They got out and got after us.”
The Thunder used a big third quarter to erase a 12-point deficit and tie the score entering the fourth. The teams stayed within a basket after that until Jackson scored five points in a 7-0 run which gave the Thunder a 97-89 lead with about 4 minutes left.
Oklahoma City stretched its advantage to 103-92 on a fast-break dunk by Jackson with 1:18 to go.
Durant shook his head when asked about the vast difference in Oklahoma City’s defense after halftime. Along with shutting down Houston’s 3-point shooting, the Thunder also held Harden scoreless after the break.
“We were able to come down and stifle them a little bit and get them out of their rhythm,” Durant said. “They’re a great offensive team. They score the ball so quickly. I think we did a great job of just putting pressure on them.”
Oklahoma City was up by eight when Houston’s Dwight Howard and Kendrick Perkins got tangled up fighting for a rebound. The two had to be separated and Perkins received a personal foul and they both were slapped with technicals for the scuffle.
Serge Ibaka added 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Thunder. Howard had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets.
Jeremy Lamb’s 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter made it 86-85, giving Oklahoma City its first lead since early in the second quarter. The teams each scored a basket after that before both offenses went silent, with neither team scoring for about a 3-minute span.
Jackson ended Oklahoma City’s scoring drought with a reverse layup with about 7 minutes remaining before Chandler Parsons ended Houston’s with a bucket about a minute later to cut the Thunder’s lead to 90-89.
The Rockets had a 12-point lead with about 4 minutes left in the third quarter before Oklahoma City went on a 15-3 run to tie it at 83 entering the final period. Ibaka scored four quick points to get the spurt going and also had a 3-pointer in that span.
Durant had the big finish for the run, taking Parsons off the dribble and pulling up to sink a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Durant fell backward to the court after the shot and flipped over before getting up wearing a huge grin as he was mobbed by teammates.
After matching a season high with 41 points in the second quarter, the Rockets had a terrible third, scoring just 10 points, and their nine points in the fourth were a season low.
The Thunder led by seven in the second quarter before Houston got going. The Rockets used a 9-0 run, powered by four points from Jones, to take a 43-41 lead with about 8 minutes left in the quarter. Harden had a nifty play near the end of that run when he hit an off-balance layup before crashing to the court.
Houston capped the 41-point quarter with a 13-1 spurt to take a 73-59 lead into halftime. Parsons hit two 3s in that run and Donatas Motiejunas added a third.
Durant was having a tough first quarter and had three turnovers before getting going in the last 1½ minutes of the period. He scored all nine of the Thunder’s last points of the quarter to leave Oklahoma City up 36-32 entering the second.
He had two dunks and was fouled on a 3-pointer and made all three free throws in that span.
NOTES: Houston’s 73 points in the first half were a season high for a half. ... McHale received a technical foul for arguing with the officials in the second quarter.