Game Over: Thunder Defuses Rockets

Saturday, May 4th 2013, 12:36 am
By: News 9

Only three out of 106 teams in NBA history have been able to force a Game 7 after falling behind 3-0 in a series.

The Thunder didn't allow Houston to become the fourth.

Oklahoma City went on a furious second-half rally to put away the pesky Rockets 103-94 in Game 6 to advance to the second round of the Playoffs on Friday night in Houston.

After Houston went on an 18-4 run to start the second half, the Thunder roared back with a 37-12 spurt to put the game out of reach, ending a series that got a little more dramatic than Thunder fans had hoped for after Russell Westbrook's injury.

Kevin Durant led the way with 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists but the Thunder doesn't win this game without the superb play off the bench.

The Houston defensive effort was keyed on Durant and Oklahoma City was in dire need of an offensive punch elsewhere, and the bench delivered in a big way.

Kevin Martin, Derek Fisher and Nick Collison went a combined +77 off the bench to spark OKC's comeback effort.

RELATED: Bench Proves Thunder Not Finished Yet

Martin in particular was outstanding with 25 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range and 8-for-8 from the foul line in front of his former home crowd. He scored 21 first-half points to help the Thunder overcome an 11-point first-quarter deficit for a four-point halftime advantage.

Fisher, as he has throughout his storied career, came up huge in a pivotal playoff game with 11 points, highlighted by three huge 3-pointers.

And as paramount as the bench was, Reggie Jackson clearly had his fingerprints all over this victory. He has shown significant growth and increased comfort in each start since moving into the point guard role and Friday night was perhaps his most well-rounded effort thus far.

Jackson had 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds and did a good job of not forcing the issue, as the team committed just 10 turnovers for the game.

James Harden led Houston with 26 points despite fighting off strep throat and Chandler Parsons had 25, including 6-of-8 from 3, to lead Houston.

The Thunder, thanks largely to Collison, improved its play in the paint, outscoring Houston 40-24 under the basket. The high-percentage buckets and a perfect 16-for-16 outing on the free-throw line helped OKC overcome another 3-point barrage from the Rockets, who hit 14 from deep in the game.

The Thunder took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter, a precarious position for a road team in a hostile environment, but OKC dropped the hammer right off the bat. The Thunder opened the quarter on a 14-4 run to go up 11. After a Harden 3-pointer trimmed it back to eight and got the rowdy Houston crowd back involved, OKC immediately silenced them again with another 7-0 burst to go up 15 with just three minutes remaining and never looked back.

With the victory, Oklahoma City advances to the second round for the third-consecutive season and will face the Memphis Grizzlies, who dispatched of the Clippers on Friday night, as well.

Game 1 against Memphis is set for noon on Sunday.