It is always nice to see Rockets facing Oklahoma City Thunder and see James Harden and Russell Westbrook taking on one another.
This might be the biggest rivalry in the NBA over the past three years. Both guys are producing unreal numbers, and are main opponents in the MVP race over that course of time.
Last night we witnessed a superb game in which the guests from OKC managed to fight their way back after trailing 26 points!
With 1:38 until the end of the first halftime, Rockets were up 68-42, and pretty much dominated on the floor. Most of the spectators were hoping to see their team win with 30 or more points against the big rival, but the thing changed in the third quarter.
“Offensively and defensively, we couldn’t do anything right,” James Harden explained, in short, the third quarter in which OKC outscored hosts 42-20.
In the late part of that period, George and the boys made a 13-3 run which brought them to only two points, shocking the fans and silencing the arena.
The whole fourth quarter was tight and intense, with both teams changing the lead. At one moment OKC had 5 points advantage, in the next Houston was up 2.
When it mattered the most, Russell Westbrook stepped up and made two big-time plays. First, he scored a layup to give his OKC 113-112 lead, and after that had a tremendous defense on Harden who missed the final two shots and allowed the guests to win.
Meanwhile, Paul George was terrorizing the Rockets, and scored 6 straight free throws in the final minutes of the game, which pulled away Thunder to a safe distance.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) February 10, 2019
These two guys took one part of the assignments each and got the job done.
Westbrook didn’t have a good shooting night, so he concentrated on other things, while George finished the game with 45 points, 15 in the last quarter, hitting 6 threes. When Houston started to lose breath, George was the one who attacked them with full power and sparked OKC’s comeback.
The 2017 MVP however, posted a triple-double with 21 points (8/21), with 12 boards and 11 assists, but lost 10 turnovers. He was in charge of the dirty work tonight, and that didn’t bother him.
“I do other things to impact the game,” said Westbrook. “I do it every single night, and I take pride in that.”
It is what PG confirmed afterward, stating that a lot of people take notice about Westbrook’s efficiency instead on other aspects of the game in which he dominates, and aren’t so attractive.
“He’s doing everything, you know. Russ is doing everything for this team… it’s not going to be nice sometimes offensively, shooting the ball, but he does so much.” OKC’s All-Star stated.
This was his 9th straight triple-double, which tied him with Wilt Chamberlain on the first place in that category. If he posts one more, against Portland, Russ will become the only one in history with such an achievement.
This road victory is very important for the Thunder. Not only because they defeated Houston, but also because the Rockets are one of the teams who is chasing them at place No.3. The other one is Portland against whom they play on Monday night.
😤 @russwest44 (21 PTS, 12 REB, 11 AST) records his NINTH straight triple-double in the @okcthunder win, tying Wilt Chamberlain for the most consecutive triple-doubles in @NBAHistory! #ThunderUp pic.twitter.com/I9X7Ctx08p
— NBA (@NBA) February 10, 2019
If they win that one too, then OKC has nice chances to reach the second seed in the West, and jump over Denver Nuggets, who are slowly losing the rhythm. At the moment, the difference between these two teams is just one game, and the Nuggets have lost three in a row.
Thunder has a stretch of challenging games in the next two weeks. Four of six which they have during that span will be played at their Chesapeake Energy Arena, against Portland, Jazz, Kings, and Philly. Two on the road are against the Pelicans and the Nuggets, which will be the ultimate test for this team.