Russell Westbrook did everything he could to keep his Oklahoma City Thunder team’s season alive Tuesday night at Toyota Center. As had been the case in the previous three games, they entered the fourth quarter with a lead, but it didn’t last as the Rockets finished the series in five games, winning 105-99.
At halftime, the Rockets led the game by 7 and extended that lead to 11 after the break, but that’s when Westbrook took over. He scored 20 points in the quarter on 6-of-9 shooting, and a before Nene’s layup with 49 seconds left brought the Rockets within five, Oklahoma City went on a 27-9 surge, however, when the Thunder took the floor for the fourth quarter, Westbrook was on the bench, and the Rockets took advantage.
Houston scored the quarter’s first four points, and after Oklahoma City scored on consecutive possessions, Lou Williams tied the game with a 3-point play. At that point, Westbrook made his way to the scorer’s table to re-enter the game, but before he could, the Rockets scored five straight points to regain the lead, and they never gave it back.
When he did return, Westbrook shot just 2-of-11 in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with 47 points, on 34 shots, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists. Four of his teammates scored in double-figures, but Jerami Grant and Alex Abrines could only score 11, while Taj Gibson and Victor Oladipo chipped in 10.
The Rockets trailed by 6 after the first quarter, but a 35-22 second quarter gave them that halftime lead. They outscored Oklahoma City 33-22 in the game’s final 12 minutes.
James Harden led the Rockets with 34 points and 8 rebounds. He shot just 8-of-25 from the field, and 2-of-13 from behind the 3-point line, but made 16-of-17 free throws.
Lou Williams chipped in 22 points off the bench, while Patrick Beverley scored 15.
The series win is the Rockets third in the Harden era and head coach Mike D’Antoni’s first since 2007 when his Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Lakers.
Houston will being its Western Conference semifinal series Monday against either San Antonio or Memphis. The Rockets lost 3-of-4 from the Spurs in the regular season, while splitting four games with the Grizzlies.