It’s always a memorable time when the Rockets are in town to play the Thunder, and Friday night was no exception as OKC was able end their five-game losing streak to Houston with a 116-108 win inside of Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Russell Westbrook was tremendous in the win and finished with his sixth triple-double of the season with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists. Kevin Durant was huge in the win as well with 33 points and 12 rebounds.
With 4:52 left in the second quarter the Thunder trailed 50-38 and OKC appeared to be in the same defensive funk that haunted them over their last three games, but fortunately Thunder head coach Billy Donovan had a plan. As the home team began to chip away at their deficit, Donovan opted to apply the infamous “Hack-A-Dwight” strategy to intentionally send Rockets center Dwight Howard to the free-throw line.
The highly criticized strategy paid off for the Thunder, as Howard shot a career-worst 4-for-15 from the stripe in the game, and OKC was able to go on a 17-to-8 run to bring the score to 58-55 before halftime due to Howard’s misses.
It was a back-and-forth to the start of the third quarter until Enes Kanter gave the Thunder a 74-72 lead, and then Durant started to do some really special things. KD completely controlled the final three minutes of the third quarter, scoring seven points, and most importantly doing it in style.
Durant soared to the basket and smashed home a fast break layup to start the scoring spree, and then nailed a deep three-pointer with 1:24 left in the quarter. The 2014-15 league’s MVP then finished off his scoring tear by converting a contested layup to put the Thunder up seven points.
Oklahoma City was in complete control of the momentum at that point in the game with a six-point lead, especially since Dwight Howard was ejected in the third quarter after picking up his second technical foul after arguing with a referee.
Kanter and Anthony Morrow each did their part in extending the Thunder lead to ten points, and the Thunder were able to hold off the Rockets throughout the rest of the quarter to hold on for the win.
Kanter finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds while Dion Waiters—who started for the injured Andre Roberson-- scored 16 points.
James Harden scored 33 points in his return to Oklahoma City, while Corey Brewer notched 17 points in the loss.
The Thunder will be back in action on Monday when they host the Wizards at 7 p.m.