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Oklahoma City Thunder 104, Houston Rockets 92: A tale of two halves

The Rockets offense in the first half of this game was the best of the year.  They shot the lights out and hit 73 points, 41 in the second quarter.  It was the most entertaining half they have played all year.  Everyone was hitting big threes and they were running like crazy. Then they came out in the third quarter and bricked in 10 points.  And in the 4th quarter the Rockets went downhill and scored 9.  That sets a record in the NBA of a -54 point differential between halves.  Durant called the second half one of the best halves the Thunder have ever played.  I’d call it one of the worst halves the Rockets have ever played.

This was really the story of the Rockets season in a nutshell.  They went from looking like they could beat anyone, to looking like another first round playoff exit.  The Rockets had the excuse of playing the second half of a back to back.  Parsons had to guard possibly the best player in the league, and at the end of the game his shots were short.  Durant smothered Harden, he was 0 for 6 in the second half.  But come on, a 19 point half!  And the Thunder were without Westbrook!

Casspi and Garcia were virtually invisible in this game, and they have been for a while now.  Now I’m hoping we can trade Casspi and/or Garcia for another piece that will help us in the next couple of years.  D Mo had another really good game going 6 of 9 for 15 points in 24 minutes.  Aaron Brooks also had a good game with 11.  T Jones went for 16 and 13, looking damn good, but the Rockets got out muscled in the paint.  The combination of Ibaka, Perkins and Adams made the Rockets bigs D Mo and T Jones look like boys to men.  Howard only got 8 boards.

Howard got into a couple of scuffles with Evans and Ibaka, got one technical and could have gotten another.  This Thunder team knows how to get into the Rockets head and it’s starting to look like a rivalry.  After losing in last year’s playoffs to a Westbrook-less Thunder, Houston found themselves in the same situation again.  They looked like the 4th youngest team in the league.  They had the fire and spirit going until about 8 minutes left in the game when the savvy, experienced Thunder just ground them down, much like the Rockets did to the Pelicans the previous evening.  There is no way this Rockets team can close against the best in the league.

Can Houston put together 48 minutes?  This seems to be the big question.  The Rockets are pretty good and have gotten away with playing on auto pilot for halves here and there and eking out wins against lesser teams.  That formula will in no way suffice in the playoffs.  These young players are going to spend some years figuring out the algorithms required in the NBA to win.  It looks like growing pains. After exactly half the season, the Rockets sit 5th in the West and it’ll be another year or two to be mentioned with the elite teams.

The Rockets best hope is to get a 4th or 5th seed.  With injuries to Bledsoe, Paul and Westbrook it’s a possibility the Rockets could end up with a first round opponent they could beat.  Then, with some momentum, we could look for the upset in round 2.  But, if they have to face OKC, the Spurs or the Blazers, it’ll most likely be one and done again.  Tonight the Rockets teased us with their best and then slaughtered us with their worst basketball of the season.  They showed they have the potential and they showed us they have the possibility. Unfortunately and ultimately, they also showed us a brutal loss.

 

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About the author: Eric Nielsen is the owner of Lotushouse Records, an English major from SDSU, a basketball player and life-long passionate Rockets fan. He’s been following the team since the days of Moses Malone, Rudy T. and Calvin Murphy.