Gordon, Williams help Rockets top Thunder, Westbrook
HOUSTON -- Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook delivered a historic performance in line with so many others produced during the regular season, but there was a measure of late inefficiency that accompanied what he did that proved haunting.
Westbrook posted a triple-double of 51 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists. His scoring total was the highest for a postseason triple-double in NBA history.
But with Westbrook fading down the stretch, Rockets reserve guards Eric Gordon and Lou Williams caught fire as the Houston Rockets erased a 15-point deficit and rallied past the Thunder 115-111 on Wednesday night at Toyota Center in Game 2 of a Western Conference first-round postseason series.
Gordon gave the Rockets their first lead with his 3-pointer with 8:08 left in the fourth quarter at 96-94. Williams followed with a 3 on the ensuing possession before James Harden added another 3-pointer for a 104-100 lead with 5:16 left.
But Gordon delivered the decisive blow with 1:48 left, drilling a 28-footer off a Harden pass to extend the lead to eight and give Houston a 2-0 series lead.
The Rockets reeled off a 12-3 run to end the third quarter and two 10-0 spurts in the fourth to complete the long comeback from their early double-digit deficit.
“They had a great start and it was great composure on our part to stay within the game,” said Gordon, who totaled 22 points and four rebounds in 30 minutes.
“We lit a fire off the bench and in the second half we just played better overall defense. It was good that we kept the pace going. In the second half, we had a great collective effort.”
Game 3 is set for Friday night in Oklahoma City at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Williams added 21 points and combined with Gordon to shoot 16 of 28 overall, including 6 for 10 on 3s. Houston was 5 of 9 from behind the arc in the fourth. Harden had 35 points and eight assists and was 18 for 20 from the free-throw line.
After the Rockets rallied to within three points entering the fourth quarter, Westbrook re-entered at the start of the fourth quarter and played the remainder of the game, shooting 4 of 18 in the fourth quarter and missing 6 of 7 3-pointers.
“From my perspective, I got to look at the fact that he did play the whole fourth quarter, and you know he was tired coming down the stretch to a certain extent,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “And I don’t want to talk for him because I didn’t ask him that, but that’s certainly something that’s crossed my mind.”
The Thunder were assertive on both ends to start, attacking the rim on offense while pressing Rockets shooters on the perimeter. Before Houston could muster a second field goal, a Nene dunk with 6:04 left in the first quarter, the Thunder led 20-7.
Oklahoma City extended to a 28-13 lead on two Jerami Grant free throws with 3:13 left and scored 35 points in the first quarter without the benefit of a 3-pointer. The Thunder posted 18 points in the paint and seven second-chance points in the quarter, a complete departure from their effort in Game 1.
The Rockets discovered some offensive rhythm in the second quarter, but they rarely made stops on the other end, with Westbrook fueling the Thunder at MVP levels. He had 22 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists at intermission. The Rockets needed a lengthy stretch of Harden free throws just to maintain contact.
But after the break Houston found its defensive might, limited the Thunder to 43 second-half points, and escaped the hole they dug almost immediately.
“A lot of times you do battle uphill and at the end you do fall back down because of the energy you had (to expend) to get back in the game,” Rockets coach Mike D‘Antoni said. “I can’t explain it; they’ve done it all year. This is a great group, and they play together and they play hard.”
Westbrook, of course, did not relent. But in the aftermath, all he had to hold was another breathtaking stat line, one that provided no solace given the team result.
“I don’t give a (expletive) about the line,” Westbrook said. “We lost.”
NOTES: Thunder coach Billy Donovan tweaked his rotation to include F Doug McDermott, who after not playing in the first half of Game 1 scored eight second-quarter points to help keep the second unit afloat. McDermott finished with 11 points in 14 minutes. ... After blocking four shots in Game 1, the Thunder totaled 12 blocks on Wednesday night. Enes Kanter, derided for his defense, had three off the bench. ... Rockets G James Harden scored 30-plus points for the fourth time in his last five postseason games and the 14th time in his postseason career, second in franchise history. Hakeem Olajuwon produced 53 30-point postseason games.