Durant's Streak Continues, But Thunder Falls To Houston

Saturday, April 5th 2014, 1:01 am
By: News 9

Kevin Durant tied greatest to ever play on Friday night in Houston, scoring at least 25 points for the 40th consecutive game.

However, Durant wasn't completely Michael Jordan-esque against the Rockets, as the Thunder fell to Houston, 111-107.

It was Oklahoma City's first loss of the season to the Rockets and just the second regular season loss to Houston since Oklahoma City sent James Harden south in a trade before last season.

Speaking of Harden, the bearded one was terrific on Friday night, scoring a game-high 39 points while grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out seven assists. Harden was just 9-of-22 from the floor, but consistently drove to the basket and got fouled. Oklahoma City sent Harden to the free throw line 20 times and Harden made 17 of his attempts.

Oklahoma City shot 20 free throws as a team, making 18 of them. Houston was able to win the game by going 32-of-37 from the charity stripe for the game.

The Rockets refused to allow Durant to beat them once again and hounded him all night with aggressive defense from Chandler Parsons and Francisco Garcia. Durant finished just 7-of-19 from the field for 28 points and turned the ball over six times. Perhaps more telling is that Durant had just 10 shot attempts in the first three quarters.

Durant did finish 11-of-12 from the free throw line and also had 12 rebounds and six assists.

There was a lot of doubt that Durant would keep his streak alive, but sitting on 22 points, he hit a fadeaway 3-pointer with just a minute remaining with 7-footer Omer Asik in his face to tie Jordan for the third-longest streak in NBA history.

The Thunder nearly pulled off the victory without Durant's best thanks to strong performances from the supporting cast, particularly Serge Ibaka. Ibaka tied a career-high with 27 points and even made two 3-pointers. He also grabbed nine rebounds, dished four assists and had six blocks. He only had six official blocks, but his dominance at the rim altered countless shots for the Rockets.

Reggie Jackson added 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while starting in place of Russell Westbrook. Caron Butler added 13 points off the bench and Jeremy Lamb took advantage of increased playing time with Westbrook's absence by scoring 12 points in 22 minutes off the bench.

Chandler Parsons helped Houston's cause with 23 points and Terrence Jones had 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Oklahoma City was dysfunctional on offense in the first half, allowing Houston to push it around defensively. There was little to no ball movement for the Thunder and it relied too much on isolations that normally ended in, at best, a missed shot.

Meanwhile on defense, the Thunder allowed the Rockets to get out in transition, giving up 19 fastbreak points in the first half compared to just seven points for themselves. Houston led, 50-45 at the break.

Oklahoma City took control of the game in the third quarter, scoring 39 points in that period alone while hitting six 3-pointers. Transition 3-pointers from Butler and Lamb gave the Thunder a 79-71 lead with 3:26 remaining in the period. Houston battled back, cutting the deficit to two points by the end of the period.

The Thunder had plenty of opportunities to come back from several small deficits in the fourth quarter, but silly fouls kept the Rockets at the free throw line rather than taking contested jumpers. Jackson and Ibaka both committed fouls on 3-point shooters, and Butler fouled Harden with 23 seconds left and OKC down three points, even though the Thunder didn't have to foul in that situation.