The Oklahoma City Thunder were unable to come up with the sweep last night in Game 4 vs. the Houston Rockets, falling 105-103.
Kevin Durant had another fantastic game with 38 points, eight rebounds and six assists. He shot 12-for-16 from the field, 13-for-15 from the free throw line but he did turn the ball over seven times.
The Rockets are a good team that you didn’t really expect the Thunder to sweep before the playoffs started. Everything changed in this series after the Westbrook injury and we still don’t know exactly what to expect from the Thunder going forward.
What we’ve seen in the two games since Russ has been somewhat troubling. Durant is really handling the ball a lot and while the offense looked better in Game 4 than it did in Game 3, it has still been pretty troubling.
The Rockets really swarmed KD last night and that’s why he could only take 16 shots. His makes were all very tough and you don’t expect him to shoot 75 percent from the field the rest of this series while Houston may be able to keep him under 20 shot attempts per game if they keep playing this way.
The real question is: did the Rockets give the Thunder one of their best games last night and is that why they won? Yes and no.
Houston was hot from deep (12-for-27) and got a career game from Chandler Parsons (27-10-8). But James Harden went just 4-for-12 in the game and scored 15 points while turning the ball over 10 times. You definitely expect Harden to play better than that going forward.
The Thunder also shot particularly well from deep going 11-for-25 in the game. Derek Fisher made 4-of-5 threes and Kevin Martin scored 16 points, which has been very above average from him in this series.
Serge Ibaka however was far too quiet going just 3-for-8 from the field with eight points and five rebounds.
Ironically, Reggie Jackson, who has been starting in place of Russell Westbrook, shot two more times than Durant did last night. Jackson had a solid game scoring 18 points in 36 minutes but only had three assists.
Houston definitely has something with these small lineups against the Thunder. OKC desperately needs Ibaka to be a force on the offensive glass to counteract them. The Thunder are still waiting for another ball handler to step up. Jackson did a fine job last night as a scorer but he missed some opportunities to set up his teammates and settled for a few jumpers when he should have driven.
I don’t think there is any need to be worried yet if you’re the Thunder. The Thunder should be able to match as well as they played in Game 4 at home for Game 5 and really should be able to play a better overall game.
The Rockets can be better too but they’ve shown their youth in this series. On the road, it will only get tougher for them and the three-pointers shouldn’t fall as frequently.
Game 5 will be Wednesday night. It’s by no means a must-win but the Thunder would definitely prefer to close them out at home and avoid another trip to Houston.