In his first game back in Chesapeake Arena since being traded by the Thunder, James Harden saw his former team beat his current team 120-98 on Wednesday night.
Thunder F Kevin Durant matched his season high of 37 points in the winning effort.
All eyes were on Harden once he reentered Chesapeake Arena; he put up 17 points despite missing his first nine shots and being held to 3-for-16 from the floor. He also saw six of his shots get blocked by his former teammates. Before the game, The Thunder flashed a welcome back message to Harden, Daequan Cook and Cole Aldrich on the overhead scoreboard. Harden even got a warm ovation when his name was announced with the starting lineups.
But that was about as friendly as it got for Harden as after that, the feelings toward him changed dramatically.
Harden was part of a heated first-half incident that resulted in OKC’s backup center Hasheem Thabeet being temporarily ejected from the game. Thabeet and Harden started jawing after Thabeet blocked two back-to-back shots by Harden. Thabeet subsequently bumped into referee Marc Davis and shoved him, which caused him to get thrown out. Later, Davis went to instant replay and downgraded the punishment to a single technical foul, and Thabeet was ultimately reinstated.
When Harden took his resulting free throw, the Oklahoma City crowd enveloped him in a chorus of boos. The made basket was Harden’s first of the game, and half of his fist half points.
For Houston, Patrick Patterson scored 27 points and Omer Asik added 17 points and 12 rebounds. The Rockets had an emotional day Wednesday, as they began it by attending the funeral of coach Kevin McHale’s daughter.
On the OKC front, Serge Ibaka scored 23 points and blocked six shots, and Kevin Martin helped out with 17 more.
Houston lead 19-14 in the first quarter, but OKC responded with an 18-4 run that included the first nine points scored in the second quarter. After that, Houston never got within ten points of the Thunder. Oklahoma City scored 15 points off of Houston turnovers, while the Rockets were unable to capitalize on that category themselves.
The Thunder advance to 12-4 while the Rockets fall to 7-8. OKC challenges the Utah Jazz next, on Friday.