Between expulsions and the return of Westbrook ... Houston regains shine; Harden, total control

Houston depended on Harden, but the success of this and his teammates was worth to dominate. Westbrook came back cold and there was tension.

Between-expulsions-and-the-return-of-Westbrook-...-Houston-regains-shine;-Harden-total-control

The first two encounters in this series were two hard-to-swallow pills. The Rockets, an already inconspicuous game but hugely profitable if we stick to the numbers shown by Daryl Morey, clearly dominated. The Thunder had to find an antidote for Harden, Luguentz Dort, and win back the most decisive Chris Paul to even the tie and put his former team on the hook. But the game changes.

The small stop these days has made many reflect and has helped the Texas roller to return. Without changing much, neither the rotation nor the way of attacking, but with more freshness, of legs and head, and I hit when the unevenness had to become more evident. With this return the dominating Rockets, who with the 3-2 are within reach of the conference semifinals.

That pairing between Harden and Dort was what changed first, in the complete of the first two quarters. The defense of the young man on the already MVP of the NBA was ineffective and Harden began to leave many points in the bag of his team. As many as 20. There the Rockets were holding out thanks to him because Russell Westbrook, the great novelty of this appointment, had scored four points in the first minutes and his contribution would be little more than that by having neither pace nor confidence after the games that had to watch from the sidewalk. Gordon was helping something, but it was Harden who was holding. And Dort, their defender, neither saw a way to stop him nor saw a hoop when they were left in attack: he finished with a disgraceful 0/9 on 3-pointers for 3/16 on total field goals.

Oklahoma caught up with Houston. At halftime equality was palpable, but on leaving the locker room those of D'Antoni gave a stretch with quick attacks and more hands in defense to which the Thunder could not respond. 4-5 minutes of vertigo and something that ended up shattering their aspirations. A hit from Dennis Schöder in the noble parts of PJ Tucker, who took it very badly and gave him a head butt, ended with both expelled. The action penalty was higher for OKC, who had the German base as the top scorer (19 points). There it all ended. The difference skyrocketed, with Gordon and Covington killing the game, and the 37-18 of the third period cleared the fourth to finish in a 114-80 that puts the Rockets at the door of the next round.



Photos from as.com
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