Most people think James Harden of Houston, with 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and leading the National Basketball Association in assists with 11.2 per game, could grab the MVP trophy because Houston was 55-27, third-best record in the National Basketball Association.
To be fair, any franchise that lost Kevin Durant (not to mention Serge Ibaka) was going to suffer. He shot 17-43 in the game, good for 39 percent but only made three field goals in the fourth quarter on 17 attempts.
Nobody else took more than 14 shots for Oklahoma City, which might not have mattered if Victor Oladipo did not produce a disappointing 11-point, 4-of-14 performance. If you've been paying close attention to the Thunder and Westbrook this season, Wednesday was a case of déjà vu. After scoring four points on 1/6 shooting in game one, he matched that output in game two on 1/8 shooting. Westbrook returned to the game when the fourth quarter, and Oklahoma City quickly scored five in a row, but the Rockets scored the next 10 points to take their lead of the night, and only trailed for 14 seconds of the game's last eight minutes. They essentially did the same thing Tuesday, but Westbrook nearly beat them single handedly.
Westbrook doesn't have a capable wingman, or at least not one he trusts, which is why he jacks up 40 shots on any given night.
The teams will travel to Portland for the next two meetings in the best-of-seven, with the Warriors taking a 2-0 lead into Game 3 on Saturday. 19 points on 19 shots is not enough production from the two best bench scorers in the league, but the Rockets still handled the Thunder by 31.
That decision played right into the Rockets' hands. After all, Westbrook scored 49 points with Beverley playing at Houston back on January 5. I understand that Singler may be better on defense over McDermott, but the Rockets are certainly not a defensive powerhouse and you need to match fire with fire.
After controlling the boards in Game 1, the Rockets were outrebounded, 48-37, on Wednesday, giving up 20 second-chance points. The Rockets essentially did the same thing Wednesday, but Westbrook nearly beat them single-handedly.
Harden has turned himself into an offensive force to be reckoned with throughout his career as he's averaged 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 11.2 assists per game this season and led his team to a third-place finish in the Western Conference with a record of 55-27 overall.
Why didn't coach Billy Donovan rest Westbrook in the fourth? Oklahoma City may not win the game tonight.
The Thunder can't pull off the upset over the third seed in the West with Westbrook barreling his way through traffic or launching prayers from beyond the arc every possession. Game 1 ended with a loss for the Thunder, and if they were aiming to even out the series yesterday, they may have hoped too soon.
Durant moved on to a team with players like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green in Golden State, where he has a much easier role to fulfill than he did in Oklahoma. Still, the Thunder fell short by four points.
Keep it plugged here for any additional news between now and game three.
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