Rapid Reaction: Houston Rockets 96, OKC Thunder 95

Oklahoma City Thunder 95 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Houston Rockets
Luis Scola, PF 32 MIN | 7-16 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 15 PTS | -7

4 boards in 31 minutes from your starting power forward won’t cut it, but I’m used to it now, so I won’t complain. His efficient scoring, as usual, helped keep the team out in front. It helps his grade that he wasn’t in the game in crunch time to screw something up defensively. Am I too hard on Scola? Maybe. You tell me.

Chandler Parsons, F 35 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | +10

Wow. Parsons won this game for the Rockets, shutting down Durant in the final two minutes. What more can be said about this rookie? He went out on an island with perhaps the game’s most dangerous scorer, looked him in the eye, and denied him from getting anything. Simply incredible. You can’t say enough about how great a luxury it was for Kevin McHale to be able to trust Parsons without sending a double team. I know the Rudy Gay matchup went poorly, but I’m really looking forward to seeing if McHale puts Parsons on Kobe for any stints when the Lakers and Rockets square off again.

Samuel Dalembert, C 29 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 12 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | +14

An inspired effort from the ‘Haitian Sensation.’ He outplayed his counterpart and provided some vital interior defense down the stretch.

Kevin Martin, SG 38 MIN | 10-18 FG | 8-8 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 32 PTS | +3

Now that’s more like it. Martin exploded for 30 points through three quarters, bouncing back from a bewildering slump that saw him average just 8ppg in his last 5. Most importantly, K-Mart scored the winning points in this one, getting Kendrick Perkins to leave his feet with a patented shot-fake. When it mattered most tonight, Martin got the call he hadn’t been getting all season.

Kyle Lowry, PG 35 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 11 PTS | +3

9 assists, but he was getting burned by Russell Westbrook at times tonight. Still, he was able to keep his counterpart in check late when it mattered and that’s all that’s important.

Patrick Patterson, PF 24 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -5

3-10 from the floor but I have to give him an A because he saved the game. With the Rockets protecting a lead, Patterson found himself guarding Russell Westbrook out on the perimeter. The point guard blew past PPatt, but the latter had the awareness of mind to foul, knowing his team was not yet in the penalty. That alertness saved the game as there was no line of defense at the basket. Kevin McHale showered Patterson with praise in the postgame presser, citing his smarts and toughness.

Hasheem Thabeet, C DNP SORE BACK MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | PTS |

Just kidding. You can tell I’m in a good mood, right?

Five Things We Saw

  1. This was easily the loudest Toyota Center has ever been in the two years I have been credentialed. Late in the fourth, the place was deafening. I cannot imagine what the playoffs must feel like. I cannot imagine what the ’94 playoffs must have felt like. My God, I hope we make it this season.
  2. For some reason, the Rockets just match up very well with the Thunder, despite the latter being the league’s best team. If we faced them in the postseason, I don’t know that I’d bet against the Rockets. Honestly, I don’t know. This is contrast to the Lakers and Clippers against whom I don’t think we’d stand a chance.
  3. It was so refreshing to see Kevin McHale go with Samuel Dalembert and Patrick Patterson down the stretch. Scola’s defense, or lack thereof, has simply lost this team far too many games. As we go forward, I’d like to see the team gradually increase Patterson’s minutes while gradually decreasing Luis’. Get the Argentinian involved early, let him help the team off to a fast start, but sit him when it gets tight.
  4. I watched James Harden actually comb his beard for a few minutes after the game, in the lockerroom. He really went to work on it. Someone then handed him some lotion and I thought he was going to apply the lotion on his face, over the beard. This might sound strange, but I actually have a friend with a similarly sized beard and this is what he does – he lotions the beard. But James Harden did not lotion his beard; he applied it on his neck.
  5. I’d be shocked if this hasn’t been uploaded already on Youtube, maybe by one of you, but at the quarter break, an event left me speechless. It was that game where you have to guess the word based on the letters you’re already seeing. So it finally came down to ‘L-O-S-C-_-_-_-_’…and the guy guessed ‘Los Angeles.’

    Pause a moment and let that sink in. I don’t blame him for not knowing it was ‘Los Cabos’….but really? The crowd reacted as if Kevin Love himself were in the building, letting loose a smattering of boos.

My interviews from tonight after the jump.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

in game coverage
  • htownwaq

    Happy to hear the home crowd came out tonight. Hopefully we can shed our reputation as the worst attended stadium in the league.

  • favianpua

    Great W! I heaved a sigh of relief after Westbrook missed what would have been the game-winning putback with a couple of seconds left in the game.

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  • Hasan Jublani

    Crazy game! Completely agree with you about Toyota Center being loud and crazy. Such a show of energy from the fans has been long overdue.

  • GabrielBarbieri

    I think it really just sank in to me how much losing sucks for players. Durant’s conciseness, his deferential treatment of Parson’s D, it sounded like Armageddon to him when he mentions the last bit about ‘setting him up for failure’ if he’s expected to make every shot in the 4th.

    Isn’t this precisely what makes the great ones transcend and the LBJs of the world fall short?

  • coop

    While I generally agree with your suggestion of increasing Patterson’s minutes and decreasing Scola’s, sometimes the Rockets go through stretches in the 4th quarter where they really need to keep the scoreboard moving even when Lowry and Martin’s shots aren’t falling. Usually Scola is the only other player I would trust to get a bucket when we need one. Hopefully Patterson will develop that over the course of the rest of this season and his value in the 4th quarter will continue to increase.

  • bob schmidt

    Since it took every point, rebound, steal, and ounce of energy the entire team could generate to win this game, I graded the entire team an A+. Like Rahat, I include the bench players, cheerleaders, and fans for their contributions to this win. Obviously, the outcome was perfect… (I include the coaching staff for a job well-done!)

  • Fuzzy Logic

    It was a great game and the Rockets have a good team but Thunder absolutely fell apart with the worst first quarter of the year and an awful final 2 minutes that saw Durant uncharacteristically miss shots he normally drains in those situations. Despite everything the Rockets had going for them they still only escaped with a 1 point win. If we see this series in the post season I’m absolutely betting against them.

  • alkemious

    It’s great to get a win over OKC at least once, but really, it was thanks to blind luck more than anything. All It came down to was an incredibly lucky offensive rebound by Kyle, this silly flop by K-Mart, and a mind-blowing double miss on layups by OKC two best players. I know everyone’s entitled to a little luck from time to time, and a W is a W no matter what, but this doesn’t speak too well of this team’s ability to close a tight game againts en alite opponent.

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