Oklahoma City Thunder 105, Houston Rockets 102 – Upgrade to Heartbreak

The Houston Rockets made the right adjustments and played the right game. The good news is that it all worked, forcing one of the most exciting games of the young playoff season. The bad news is that even this wasn’t enough to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder at home, who pulled out a critical win to go up 2-0 on the Houston Rockets.

Despite the fact that this was one of the most heartbreaking losses of the year for this new Rockets team, this was also reason for hope and excitement. Game one was a story of a dominant team winning a game they were expected to. Game two was a scrappy underdog showing why they might be a real threat in the future. Even though the Rockets couldn’t quite hold off the Thunder as the game closed, they put themselves in the position to be heartbroken at all.

The biggest stories of the game all revolve around Patrick Beverley, a point guard who looks increasingly important for the Houston Rockets. Power forward Greg Smith was pushed out of the starting lineup to accommodate Beverley, who was one of the only bright marks in the previous game. Beverley then replaced Lin, who left the game with a chest contusion in the first half.

Beverley ended the game with 16 points, 6 assists and 12 rebounds, more than any Thunder player and second only to Omer Asik’s 14. He not only did everything on the boards, but also did an amazing defensive job against Russell Westbrook, one of the most deadly point guards on the planet. He also got under Westbrook’s skin on a couple of plays, including one in which Russ took a hit to the knee.

James Harden finally had the kind of game the world had been waiting for, racking up 36 points on 25 shots and a whopping 20 free throws. His 11 rebounds and 6 assists rivaled Beverley, and he looked as aggressive as Houston needed him to be. His 6 turnovers are an ongoing cause for concern, but the Rockets were able to push the Thunder to the brink with 16 turnovers, which is a positive sign.

Parsons also had a good game, guarding both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook at times, and playing like his rookie self. His tools are there on defense: length, height, size and effort. As the series progresses, Durant may come to hate him, especially since he kept Durant to under 50% yet again. He may have had 17 points on 23 shots, but he won’t always miss 7 of 10 from three.

The entire team had another poor three point shooting night, shooting under 30% yet again. While this is a testament to OKC’s defense, many of the shots the Rockets missed were wide open. It’s unlikely the Rockets will keep missing open shots, which might make all the difference in Houston.

Of course, the downside of all of this is that the Rockets were playing above their heads and it still wasn’t enough. Asik was his usual defensive stalwart self, Smith was grabbing offensive boards and slamming them back, and the Rockets were closing out on shooters, but it didn’t matter.

What we’ve learned is that while the Thunder are the better team, the Rockets have enough X factors to push them. Oklahoma City is likely to adjust to Houston’s zone defense and punish them next game, but this series is no longer a cake walk. Houston might have to work twice as hard to make up for a talent difference, but they’re willing to work that hard. As painful as it may be, the Rockets are being forged in Oklahoma City’s crucible of fire.

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  • 2016Champions says 12 months ago

    Kendrick Perkins recently tweeted:

    And if you don't like what I did then do something about it. Ill be in Houston tomorrow. 1

  • kevingan says 12 months ago

    Thanks for posting that breakdown, 2016--very illuminating. Though it makes me upset about Perkins' hold all over again, and now even more! Maybe we'll get some makeup calls next time.

  • 2016Champions says 12 months ago

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VUiiXCSEAs

  • tombrokeoff says 12 months ago

    surprisingly im not all that upset about this loss. the first game was disgusting. this one, while it always sucks to lose, it was one hell of a fight and they showed some unbelievable tenacity. i love beverley. the rest of the group could learn from him. hope his hustle rubs off on the rest of the guys. i only expected to win 1 game in this series. then after game 1, i figured we'd get swept. so for them to come back and fight like they did in game 2 makes me proud.

  • ale11 says 12 months ago

    Putting Beverley on Westbrook was a great call, because not only he showed that he could provide high energy during the whole game, but he got under Westbrook's skin and we know what happens when he gets frustrated. Besides, it didn't harmed us that Westbrook got in foul trouble early in the game (the ideal, as I stated before on another thread, would be that Durant gets in foul trouble, but I'll settle for Westbrook :D). Of course, from a "learning experience" point of view, this was a step forward. Here's to hope that we keep trending this way and if we have to go down 0-4, let it be playing like last night and not like game 1.

  • Zero Zero says 12 months ago

    I'm really proud of this team for coming back from that 15-point deficit in the 4th quarter. The boys in red are becoming men in the course of this series. It's all going in the right direction.
  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    Game was lost starting Delfino.


    Obviously you didn't watch the game, because Delfino did not start.
  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago Game was lost starting Delfino.
  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    We actually don't need to. McHale went with a line-up of Bev-Lin-Parsons-Harden-Asik and it actually worked. Harden shut Ibaka down defensively and gave him hell offensively.


    Yeah, mine as well stick with this lineup (assuming Lin can play next game)
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Yep. Time to bench Lin.

    We actually don't need to. McHale went with a line-up of Bev-Lin-Parsons-Harden-Asik and it actually worked. Harden shut Ibaka down defensively and gave him hell offensively.

  • kevingan says 1 YEAR ago

    Beverleysanity. I like it. He does more things on the court to help you win a basketball game than does Lin, in my opinion.

    That's probably true in an offense that's centered around James Harden--but it's not always true, even in that system, and in other systems, it often wouldn't be true either. As they say in England, it's horses for courses.

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    Bev's defense on Westbrook was incredible, he was actually outplaying Westbrook until those sketchy calls put Bev on the bench.


    Yep. Time to bench Lin.
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Bev's defense on Westbrook was incredible, he was actually outplaying Westbrook until those sketchy calls put Bev on the bench.

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago Beverleysanity. I like it. He does more things on the court to help you win a basketball game than does Lin, in my opinion.
  • kevingan says 1 YEAR ago

    I'm a huge Lin fan (I've followed him here from the Knicks, whom I no longer follow, after 43 years!), but tonight I think we saw some interesting alternatives. Of course, the obvious one is to trade Lin and have Beverly/Harden at the 1/2--Beverly's sure not ideal at the 1 in terms of running the team, but he could learn, and his other attributes are outstanding--super game tonight, Bevsanity! This "trade Lin" strategy would be to acknowledge that all plans and chemistry changed when the Harden deal popped up. If the Rockets are going to go all uptempo athleticism, Beverly could be the better answer, though again, I would caution against underestimating Lin's ability to grow and adapt; I think his basketball IQ is tremendous, and he'll improve his shot and his ball handling over the summer.

    However, tonight's lineup suggested another strategy--a tip of the hat to McHale, who surprised me with this creativity. Have people been watching the new Miami offense with LeBron as a point forward who mainly operates near the elbow? I think it was Zach Lowe who analyzed the innovative scheme in Grantland a while back. What it boils down to is that with the right hugely talented player and good three point shooters to spread the floor, this is a nightmare offense for opposing teams: 27 in a row nightmare!

    Well, what if you installed that system with Harden in the role of LeBron? With Lin and Beverly at 1 and 2? I actually think that would be better for Harden, with his fabulous passing ability, and more likely keep him out of the hero ball problem; I'd rather see him emulating LeBron than Kobe, and with his strength and skill set, I think he's one of the few players in the league who actually could. Beverly and Lin could take turns playing Wade and Chalmers. Worth thinking about, anyway.

    This game was more painful than the first one! So close and yet so far....

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago Beverley is better than Lin.
  • Freebird says 1 YEAR ago

    Agree - was a very good game. They let themselves slip a bit late 3rd - early 4th, but that was a seriously good run to take the lead with 3 minutes left. I *am* a bit disappointed with dirty plays by Perkins - the elbow to Harden's "solar plexus" and the grab are not basketball plays, and never should be.

    Lin did okay, but only playing him and Bev during the season really showed. Brooks was completely out of sorts during his minute. Didn't have time to pick up the offense, or folks' tendencies.

    Omer needs to develop a pump fake.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    the downside of all of this is that the Rockets were playing above their heads and it still wasn't enough

    Not sure about that, I think we missed a lot of wide open threes, we could have easily scored 130 points if we were really playing playing above our heads.

  • thenit says 1 YEAR ago

    It's definitely one of those "would the Rockets have won if Lin was healthy" moments. On one hand, Beverley had a spectacular game and probably would have played less with Lin. On the other hand, Lin was bad, but holy mother of God was Brooks completely awful.

    Not sure what game you were watching. How can you say that Lin had a bad game? He had played a decent game, not great but it was respectable.

    Agree on the point on Bev, he was outstanding and loved his I don't care who you are attitude on Russ.

  • Red94 says 1 YEAR ago New post: Oklahoma City Thunder 105, Houston Rockets 102 - Upgrade to Heartbreak
    By: Forrest Walker

    The Houston Rockets made the right adjustments and played the right game. The good news is that it all worked, forcing one of the most exciting games of the young playoff season. The bad news is that even this wasn't enough to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder at home, who pulled out a critical win to go up 2-0 on the Houston Rockets.

    Despite the fact that this was one of the most heartbreaking losses of the year for this new Rockets team, this was also reason for hope and excitement. Game one was a story of a dominant team winning a game they were expected to. Game two was a scrappy underdog showing why they might be a real threat in the future. Even though the Rockets couldn't quite hold off the Thunder as the game closed, they put themselves in the position to be heartbroken at all.

    The biggest stories of the game all revolve around Patrick Beverley, a point guard who looks increasingly important for the Houston Rockets. Power forward Greg Smith was pushed out of the starting lineup to accommodate Beverley, who was one of the only bright marks in the previous game. Beverley then replaced Lin, who left the game with a chest contusion in the first half.

    Beverley ended the game with 16 points, 6 assists and 12 rebounds, more than any Thunder player and second only to Omer Asik's 14. He not only did everything on the boards, but also did an amazing defensive job against Russell Westbrook, one of the most deadly point guards on the planet. He also got under Westbrook's skin on a couple of plays, including one in which Russ took a hit to the knee.

    James Harden finally had the kind of game the world had been waiting for, racking up 36 points on 25 shots and a whopping 20 free throws. His 11 rebounds and 6 assists rivaled Beverley, and he looked as aggressive as Houston needed him to be. His 6 turnovers are an ongoing cause for concern, but the Rockets were able to push the Thunder to the brink with 16 turnovers, which is a positive sign.

    Parsons also had a good game, guarding both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook at times, and playing like his rookie self. His tools are there on defense: length, height, size and effort. As the series progresses, Durant may come to hate him, especially since he kept Durant to under 50% yet again. He may have had 17 points on 23 shots, but he won't always miss 7 of 10 from three.

    The entire team had another poor three point shooting night, shooting under 30% yet again. While this is a testament to OKC's defense, many of the shots the Rockets missed were wide open. It's unlikely the Rockets will keep missing open shots, which might make all the difference in Houston.

    Of course, the downside of all of this is that the Rockets were playing above their heads and it still wasn't enough. Asik was his usual defensive stalwart self, Smith was grabbing offensive boards and slamming them back, and the Rockets were closing out on shooters, but it didn't matter.

    What we've learned is that while the Thunder are the better team, the Rockets have enough X factors to push them. Oklahoma City is likely to adjust to Houston's zone defense and punish them next game, but this series is no longer a cake walk. Houston might have to work twice as hard to make up for a talent difference, but they're willing to work that hard. As painful as it may be, the Rockets are being forged in Oklahoma City's crucible of fire.
  • RollingWave says 1 YEAR ago

    ugggh, so close.

    I'm still worried that Harden is still not hitting shots at a good percentage. he got to the line a lot more this game , but I'm pretty user 20 FT is high even for him, he needs to hit his FG / 3P at a better than sub 40/20 % he was shoot at again this game.

    Here's hoping Lin can recover in time for game 3.

    Mad props to McHale for the ballsy lineup and defense arrangement this game, and it actually worked.

  • Cooper says 1 YEAR ago Sacrementos crappiness seems to have rubbed off big time on brooks.
  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    That was a great game. Still haven't played our best and nearly stole home court from them. Those threes have to start going in soon. Kudos to Harden for a pretty solid game. Only a few drives where it looked like he wasn't actually trying to make the shot and only a couple of times did I wish he hadn't shot the three ball. His defense was better, but still needs some work.

    I can't wait for all the "trade Lin/start Beverley" cries from the peanut gallery. Bev played great. Loved watching him and westbrook go at it.

    Carlos, if you don't start knocking down more threes, I think it's fair to ask for a little bit of that $3M back.

    Parsons played great and shot poorly. If I had to point a finger, that 7-23 is an easy target. That being said, his three point shot with 1 minute to go could have swung the game in our favor and I'm fine with him taking it.

    Asik battled all night. I know Dwight gives us the offense, but I don't think he plays that hard on defense....maybe with his athleticism he doesn't have to....but he should anyways. Love Asik. :wub:

    Let's hope they can patch Lin up--I liked the three guard line-up.

  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago

    Brooks looked awful, so we'd probably have been better with Lin on the floor than Brooks when Beverley had to go to the bench with 4 fouls. But it should be noted that Brooks had a +/- of 0 while he was on the court, so it's not like the team dug itself a hole while he was on the court.

    Although wait a minute, ESPN's +/- stats look a bit dodgy. There are no Houston players with negative +/-, and no OKC players with positive...someone's got their minus signs mixed up, methinks.

    ST

  • bboley24 says 1 YEAR ago

    Brooks had a few minutes... hasn't played real NBA ball in a very very very long time. Let alone playoff ball. I think he'd be a great backup.

  • PKM says 1 YEAR ago

    It's definitely one of those "would the Rockets have won if Lin was healthy" moments. On one hand, Beverley had a spectacular game and probably would have played less with Lin. On the other hand, Lin was bad, but holy mother of God was Brooks completely awful.

  • Cooper says 1 YEAR ago Much better overall game than the first one at least.
  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago

    For those that say the Rockets don't need Dwight Howard, again, I have to laugh at that sentiment and I point to this game as Exhibit Z. As usual, Asik was stellar defending the rim....but missed countless shots at the rim. Howard gives you that same defense but with finishing.

  • Cooper says 1 YEAR ago Asik just can't finish at all.
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago

    Really smart play by the Rockets at the end of the third quarter. With Westbrook pounding the ball at the top of the key, they put Garcia on him and had Beverley guard Durant because they knew that Durant was going to screen for Westbrook. When he did, the Rockets just switched on the pick and roll and left the Thunder with nothing. As a result they didn't get a shot off before time expired. Great anticipation/reading the Thunder's play calls, although if they weren't thinking about holding for the last shot I suspect OKC would have made more of an effort to get it to Durant on the mismatch.

    ST

  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago

    I wouldn't go so far as to say he's killing them. In the first quarter I actually thought he played pretty well. There were a couple of good drive-and-kick actions (I think there were a times when people missed open threes off his action, he knocked in a three ball of his own and there were some easy finishes in delayed transition as well.

    Second quarter was not so good by him, but because the Rockets were playing with Beverley and Harden on the court they had three ball handlers so it didn't matter so much.

    I thought Smith had a much better time of it tonight - he was able to be a force on the offensive glass without giving up anything too noticeable on the defensive end. In fact in general I think the defensive scheme is holding up pretty well - just have to prevent Westbrook from getting up a head of steam and the Thunder have looked remarkably quiet.

    Also, Patrick Beverley vs Russell Westbrook is a great duel! Hoping they can keep it up for the rest of the series.

    ST

  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago

    i wrote to keep in lin, this morning, with the thinking we'd get blown out. but he's been ATROCIOUS and its a close game. at this point, i have to go with aaron brooks. lin is KILLING the rockets right now with his inability to do anything.

  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago

    Beautiful 1st quarter, though we're still down 1....lol. But in any event, much better.

  • bboley24 says 1 YEAR ago

    Touche' my friend... hence del3no and the ratchet

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    BOLD PREDICTION: Lineups and misuse of the PF position leads to another blow out and KM is benched for game 3.


    We don't have any Real power forwards. That's the problems. We have a bunch of prospects who have no business starting or even playing for a playoff team at this stage in their careers.
  • bboley24 says 1 YEAR ago

    BOLD PREDICTION: Lineups and misuse of the PF position leads to another blow out and KM is benched for game 3.

  • thenit says 1 YEAR ago

    I will just be happy if we are withing striking distance at the start of the 4th Q

  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago

    I'm still expecting OKC to win this one, but I think it will be closer. The Rockets will spend the whole game down by 5-10 points before a late run in the 4th quarter blows the game open and the Thunder end up winning by 15. Improved play from Smith (it's not possible to play as badly as he did in that first one again, I'm chalking that one down to nerves) and some hot shooting from Parsons prevent the Thunder from racing away.

    ST

  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago Sort of bold prediction: The Rockets and coaching staff figure out a few things in game 2 that helps them win game 3.

    Have a good time at that game Blake!
  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago

    OKC did to use what they used to the entire 2012 playoffs: take off during 3rd quarter (although that actually started at the end of the 2nd). The only chance to upset OKC is what Miami pulled off last year: get Durant in foul trouble! (having LeBron helps, but we'll have to settle with the foul trouble). And that's gonna be a tough one on the road.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Bold prediction: Delfino starts at PF and makes 7 three's en-route to 30 points which is overshadowed by James Harden's career high 50 points and Rockets win.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    Bold Prediction: Ref's blow the whistle often in favor of the Rockets due to extra aggressiveness and we steal a game from the Thunder.

  • tombrokeoff says 1 YEAR ago

    wow awesome, blake! should be fun! be safe.

    i hope the rockets show a little more fight and dont look so damn scared/lost on offense. they all need more of beverleys fearlessness and hustle.

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago Jones goes 35 minutes and gets a double double with more blocks then Ibaka.
  • blakecouey says 1 YEAR ago This guy will be at the game. Headed to Oklahoma for business right now.

    Hope we can at least make it a competition this time. Id like to see less Smith and more Jones.
  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago Well, I sure hope it is nothing like game 1. I just want us to show some fight and not get blown out. I also want to see us actually make some shots and maybe play a little defense too.