Rockets at Thunder
Russell Westbrook repeatedly says winning is all that matters to him and he's running out of opportunities to enjoy that feeling. Houston won the first two games of the best-of-seven first-round series so Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder face a must-win situation when they host the Rockets on Friday.
Westbrook produced the highest-scoring triple-double in playoff history with 51 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in Game 2 but he wilted in the fourth quarter and the Thunder fell 115-111. Westbrook was just 4-of-18 shooting while playing the entire final quarter and it equated to a major missed opportunity as Oklahoma City let a 15-point, first-half lead slip away. Rockets guard James Harden poured in 35 points and helped keep his club in the game when it appeared the Thunder were on their way to knotting the series. "It wasn't pretty," Harden told reporters. "We didn't make a lot of shots. We gave them the early lead and we had to fight our way back and we did. We didn't give up. We continued to fight and grind and figure out a way to win."
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, ROOT (Houston), FSN Oklahoma
ABOUT THE ROCKETS: Houston averaged just 102.5 points - nearly 13 points below its average - in two regular-season visits to Oklahoma City and struggled in the fourth quarters with outputs of 13 in the loss and 16 in the win. The Rockets received 93 of their 115 points in Game 2 from the backcourt quartet of Harden, Eric Gordon (22 points), Lou Williams (21) and Patrick Beverley (15). Primarily known for his defensive prowess, Beverley is averaging 18 points on 14-of-22 in the first two games.
ABOUT THE THUNDER: Coach Billy Donovan questioned his decision not to have Westbrook take his customary break on the bench to start the fourth quarter of Game 2 but Westbrook insisted afterward that he wasn't tired. But the final 12 minutes was full of errant shots from Westbrook as he finished 17-of-43 from the field and is just 23-of-66 in the series. Part of the problem in Game 2 was that nobody from the supporting class stepped up and shooting guard Victor Oladipo has been horrid in the series by averaging 8.5 points on 5-of-26 shooting.
1. Westbrook is averaging 36.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10 assists, while former Thunder teammate Harden is averaging 36 points, 8.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds.
2. Oklahoma C Steven Adams is averaging just 5.5 points and six rebounds, while backup C Enes Kanter is averaging just six points and two rebounds.
3. Houston F Ryan Anderson is averaging four points on 2-of-14 shooting, including 11 straight misses from 3-point range.