Thunder guards Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo were a combined 3-of-17 on 3-point attempts. By halftime he'd missed four more from beyond the arc. The battle of the MVP's in game one went to James Harden.
"Just being basketball-savvy, you know?" But they got to realize that it's over now. Showing forth that the Rockets are at their prime to be in the finals, Harden again had spectacular season. The Rockets recorded 55 regular-season victories and have an MVP candidate in James Harden, and still Game 1 was not a sellout. Eric Gordon scored just eight points while Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza had just four points each, but their usual production wasn't required as the Rockets dominated the second half by 59-33 on the back of their defense. "Go out there and prove we're just as good, too". Defensively, the Thunder are yielding 105.8 points against the opposing teams.
On the season, the Rockets are averaging 115.3 points, 44.4 rebounds and 25.2 assists per game. Sunday, they were outrebounded 56-41. The Thunder finished with seven offensive boards. "I've been like that since I was a little kid. It's not just on the bigs, it's on everybody to rebound".
Houston scored the next nine points, capped by consecutive 3-pointers by Beverley to make it 73-64 midway through the period. Some teams choose to stay home in the paint and hope for a poor shooting night. Had Patrick Beverley not exploded for 21 points in 26 minutes, the Thunder could have been much closer. The bearded ringmaster of that attack was on full display for the world to see on Sunday night.
Possibly most encouraging for the Rockets was they can absolutely play better.
"When I get on the floor, I got one friend, and that's the basketball", Westbrook said.
Harden has been reading the game right all season. Game 1 of this duel between the two former teammates went decidedly to Harden.
Westbrook had 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, but made just 6 of 23 shots and had nine turnovers for the sixth-seeded Thunder.
"We got to play and do a better job, starting with myself", Westbrook said. Credit is due for Roberson though, as he scored 18 points on 70% shooting from the field and 4 made threes. That pick brought Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni out of his seat, yelling at the referees, who didn't call a foul. Watt - sitting courtside - was waiting with an admiring handshake.
One of the moments of the match was a screen by Adams on Beverley.