Russell Westbrook recorded 24 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and four steals to help the Oklahoma City Thunder post a crucial 108-102 victory over the host Houston Rockets on Saturday night at Toyota Center.
Paul George also scored 24 points and Carmelo Anthony added 22 for the Thunder, who won for just the second time in the past six games. Steven Adams contributed 12 points and eight rebounds and Jerami Grant also scored 12 points for Oklahoma City.
The victory leaves the Thunder (46-34) tied with the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs, who both won Saturday, for fifth place in the Western Conference playoff race. Oklahoma City needs to win one of its final two games to clinch a playoff berth.
James Harden had 26 points and nine assists but couldn’t prevent the Rockets from losing for just the third time in their past 33 games. The setback also ended Houston’s 20-game home winning streak.
“When we are playing our best, nobody can beat us,” Westbrook said during a postgame interview on ABC. “I always believe in the guys in this locker room and they did a great job of competing tonight.”
Chris Paul added 17 points and nine assists and PJ Tucker had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets. Gerald Green had 14 points and Clint Capela scored 10 for Houston.
Rockets guard Eric Gordon and forward Ryan Anderson both missed the game with ankle injuries.
Westbrook scored seven points during an 11-0 push that saw the Thunder take a 102-92 lead with 3:47 remaining. Houston went 4:33 without a point before Tucker drained a 3-pointer from the left corner with 2:36 remaining.
Trevor Ariza’s dunk pulled the Rockets with 107-102 with 20 seconds remaining but they couldn’t get closer as they tallied just 19 fourth-quarter points.
The Rockets led by five points just before the midway point of the third quarter before the Thunder rallied to knot the score at 73 on Corey Brewer’s 3-pointer with 5:16 remaining. The score was tied again at 77 before Paul scored six points — including a four-point play — before George converted a three-point play to cut Oklahoma City’s deficit to 83-80 entering the final stanza.
Anthony scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the opening quarter as the Thunder held a 36-30 lead.
Houston inched ahead by a point early in the second quarter before Oklahoma City rattled off 10 straight points and took a 46-37 lead on a 3-pointer by Grant. The lead topped out at 11 and the Rockets recovered to knot the score at 60 on a 3-pointer by Luc Mbah a Moute before taking a 62-61 lead into the break.
—Field Level Media