Down 12 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter Wednesday night at Toyota Center, the Rockets needed a spark. They had trailed game two of their first round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder all night, and had been stuck on 74 points for three minutes. They called timeout, and what happened after helped them comeback to win the game 115-111 to take a 2-0 series lead.
Thunder head coach Billy Donovan benched Russell Westbrook, and after sleepwalking for the game’s first 34 minutes, the Rockets came alive.
Out of the timeout, James Harden drilled a 3-pointer. After a stop, Eric Gordon drove to the rim and brought the Rockets within seven. After another Semaj Christon missed from long distance, Lou Williams hit a floater. Timeout Thunder, but Westbrook stayed on the bench. Harden laid one in to get the Rockets within a possession, but it looked like the momentum might’ve been stopped when Victor Oladipo hit a 3-pointer, it wasn’t.
Harden came right back and hit a 28-footer with three seconds left to answer. 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.
Westbrook finished the game with a 51-point triple-double, bringing down 10 rebounds, and dishing out 13 assists, but almost all his damage was done before leaving the game in the third quarter. He hoisted 18 shots in the fourth quarter, more than anyone took in the game, and only made four. He shot 17-of-43 for the game, 2-of-11 from behind the 3-point line.
Three of his teammates scored in double-figures, but Andre Roberson’s dozen finished behind him. Oladipo and Doug McDermott scored 11.
Oklahoma City led by 9 after a quarter and 68-62 at halftime, but scored just 43 points after halftime.
Harden led the Rockets with 35 points, needing just 17 shots to get it, while Eric Gordon and Lou Williams led a 3-man bench unit that outscored the Thunder 50-24. Gordon scored 22, half in the fourth quarter, while Williams scored 21, 16 coming in the first half.
Ryan Anderson was held to 1-of-8 shooting and missed all 7 of his shots from behind the arc, he is 0-of-11 from out there through the first two games of the series.
Game three is Friday night in Oklahoma City.