Posted on March 7, 2018, by Travis Pulver

Earlier this season, the Oklahoma City Thunder had Houston’s number. But the Rockets were without Chris Paul in that game. This time around, he would be in the lineup. This meant the Thunder would likely need an even bigger game from their ‘Big Three’ than they got the first time these two played.

But they didn’t get. Houston, on the other hand, got what it needed from the usual suspects.

Via @TSN_Sports

James Harden had a double-double with 23 points and 11 assists. Chris Paul led the way on the scoreboard with 25 points as Houston recorded their 50th win of the season and extended the win streak to 16 games with a 122-112 win.

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The Rockets got out to an early 26-24 lead after the first. But their defense perked up in the second quarter allowing  Houston to extend the lead to nine points, 54-45, by halftime. James Harden led the way for the Rockets with 13 points, seven assists, and five rebounds. Carmelo Anthony led the way for the Thunder with 19 points followed by Russell Westbrook with 14 points.

But to win, the Thunder needed each of their Big Three to have good games. At the half, Paul George’s game was anything but good (1-7 from the floor). However, with the deficit only being nine points, it was still anyone’s game.

At first, it looked like the Thunder were going to get back into it in the third. A strong push to start the quarter saw the cut Houston’s lead down to two-points, 61-59, with 8:04 to play. But then the Rockets responded with a 13-4 to push the lead back out to 11-points with a little less than half the quarter to play.

A three-pointer by Rockets guard Gerald Green gave Houston a 13-point lead, 87-74, heading into the final quarter.

Houston kept the pressure on in the fourth quarter and extended the lead out to 19-points, 103-84, midway through the quarter. Paul George was able to cut the deficit to eight points with a 27-foot three-pointer, but there were just 43 seconds to go.

It was too little, too late. Westbrook closed out the scoring with a late layup to make the final 122-112.

Houston had an exceptional night from the floor hitting 53.5 percent of their shots from the floor (38-71) and 51.5 percent from behind the arc (17-33). Along with Paul’s 25 and Harden’s 23 points, the Rockets had five other players score in double figures. Russell Westbrook finished the night with 32 points followed by Anthony with 23 points and George with 17.

“We’re so good offensively that every single night, teams are going to throw different coverages at us,” Harden said after the game (USNews). “We’ve just got to figure out ways to attack them. Tonight, was no different. Once we found something that we could go to, we used it. Guys got open shots, and we just ride that wave out the entire game.”

The Rockets will try to keep the good times rolling when they travel to Milwaukee for a Wednesday night game with the Bucks. Oklahoma City will get a day off before facing the Phoenix Suns Thursday night.

Via @TSN_Sports

The Aftermath

The win means the Rockets are 33-1 with Harden, Paul, and Clint Capella in the lineup. But with the streak now sitting at 16 games and Houston winning their 50th game of the season, they may have to guard against the worst foe yet moving forward—complacency.

But Harden isn’t worried about it and doesn’t think the streak means anything to the team (ESPN):

“…We just want to play well. We want to play well and have each other’s back, no matter what, on both ends of the floor. It doesn’t matter. Wins and losses will come.”

Houston fans will hope its more wins than losses.

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