Oklahoma City narrowly held off the Houston Rockets on Wednesday evening, winning 105-102 to take a 2-0 lead in the first round of the playoffs.
For the Thunder, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each dropped 29 in the winning effort; 21 of Durant’s points came in the first half alone. Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefalosha also scored in double-digits with 12 and 10 apiece, while Ibaka also had 11 rebounds and six blocks.
James Harden shouldered most of the burden for Houston–much like he did in Game 1–scoring 36 points and having 11 rebounds in a double-double effort. Furthermore, Patrick Beverly and Chandler Parsons showed up much more this time around, scoring 33 points between them.
It was a sloppy win for Oklahoma City, who squandered a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter that forced them to ultimately come from being down four points with under four minutes left to play.
In the beginning, the Rockets made it clear that they had no intentions of cruising through this game like they did in Game 1, keeping it close with the Thunder from wire to wire. They went on a 17-2 run to tie it at 91 with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, giving the Thunder a legitimate scare down the stretch.
But Durant, Ibaka, and Sefalosha stepped up with the game on the line, each knocking down a clutch shot to put OKC back on top, and to then give them just enough cushion to pull out the win. Near the end of the game, Durant drained a deep three to put the Thunder up one, 98-97. On their following possession, Ibaka dished a clean pass to Sefalosha who also knocked down the tre ball, extending the lead to 101-97. And finally, Ibaka drained a turnaround jumper following a missed free throw from James Harden to make the score 103-98.
It was a nice series of possessions for the Thunder, in a quarter marred by careless mistakes.
The Thunder and the Rockets have the next two days off, before they resume this series on Sat., Apr. 27 at the Toyota Center in Houston. It is critical that the Rockets can win on their home turf in these next few games, or the lights will unceremoniously cut out on their postseason hopes.