Daily Thunder

Thunder smoke the Rockets a second time, 124-94


It was pretty easy to read Kevin Durant’s lips as he hugged James Harden postgame.

“It’s just a game, man.”

One game, yes. But a second blowout Harden has suffered at the hands of his old mates. After getting blasted by 22 in his return to Oklahoma City, Harden’s Rockets fell hard at home to the Thunder by 30 this time around, 124-94.

The Thunder can be just plain relentless. The game started with a frantic pace that seemed to favor the Rockets, but eventually, OKC’s talent and depth just wore Houston down. The Thunder closed the first half on a 16-0 run to take an 18-point edge to halftime and didn’t take their foot off the pedal after the break.

Kevin Durant, who started the game painfully, hitting just one of his first eight attempts, got things rolling in the second quarter hitting seven of his last 10 shots. Russell Westbrook had the pull-up game working early, pouring in jumpers and slashing to the rim. Kevin Martin was an immediate spark off the bench in his return to the Toyota Center, scoring 19 which included 5-of-8 from 3.

It was a completely dominant performance. The Thunder straight swarmed the Rockets in the third quarter blocking shots and swiping passes everywhere. It was a bumrush.

Now, the Rockets have the excuse that they were coming off a high-paced loss against the Spurs the night before. So they might’ve had some heavy legs. That’s probably part of this, but it was pretty clear that they just couldn’t keep up with OKC’s firepower. Once Durant joined Martin and Westbrook scoring at will, the Rockets had zero chance. When the Thunder’s three-headed monster is rolling, there’s not much you can do. You’re talking about three of the most gifted offensive players in the world all feeling it. When you’re not a good defensive team to start with like the Rockets, you’re completely screwed.

And the Rockets just couldn’t keep up. Like the first meeting, Harden looked frustrated, overwhelmed and unlike himself. He went just 6-17 from the field with four turnovers (though he finished with 25 points). Jeremy Lin was terrible again going against Westbrook as he couldn’t stop him and scored only seven points on 3-8 shooting.

In the two meetings, which again, the Thunder have won by a combined 52 points, Lin and Harden have gone 15-48 from the floor with Harden being just 9-33. Part of that might be the Thunder understanding his game. Part of it is Thabo Sefolosha’s suffocating defense. And part of it is probably Harden trying a little too hard.

Whatever it was, the Thunder were ultra impressive. To go on the road and completely steamroll a solid team like the Rockets is nothing but outstanding. I think we’re past the message-sending stuff about Harden, but he’s an opposing star that the Thunder have to deal with in the West now.

And OKC definitely has his number.


Next up: Monday at home against the Suns.


Royce Young
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