Houston Rockets defeat OKC Thunder again, 112-106
By Emmanuel Rivera, RRT
Thu, 02 Feb 2023
In boxing, styles make fights. Could the same maxim be true in the game of hoops?
The Houston Rockets, who own the worst record (13-38) in the Western Conference, had the style to beat the OKC Thunder, 112-106, Wednesday night.
It was a pleasant surprise for the 15,181 loyal fans at Houston’s Toyota Center and the Rockets who seem to have enough substance to beat OKC- having gone 2-0 this season and 5-1 against the Thunder in back-to-back years wherein Houston was at the cellar.
Despite the absence of Kevin Porter, Jr. and Filipino-American guard Jalen Green, who were both on the injured list, Houston caused all sorts of problems for the visiting OKC.
Rockets veteran guard Eric Gordon took the mantle of responsibility and led with 25 points.
Rookie Tari Eason, the 17th-overall pick in the 2022 draft, announced himself with a career-high 20 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks in 19 minutes of play, reminiscent of Akeem Olajuwon when he was a rookie.
Kenyon Martin Jr. added 18 points, 7 grabs, and 4 dishes.
Off the bench, Josh Christopher contributed 11 points.
It was an exciting game, and it was a toss-up all the way to the 4 minute mark.
With Houston up by 5 points, courtesy of Josh Christopher who made back-to-back deuces, the Thunder’s Darius Bazley made a free throw followed by a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander jumper to get within 2 points, 100-98.
The Rockets added 5 more points, with a 3-pointer from Kenyon Martin Jr., increasing their lead to 7 about a minute later.
OKC’s Eric Gordon missed two free throws, then Gilgeous-Alexander sank a deuce, thus nudging OKC closer, 105-100.
With less than a minute left, Houston’s Daishen Nix sank a layup and Kenyon Martin made an emphatic dunk seconds later to extend Houston’s lead to 109-100.
Alperen Şengün posted 10 points and 13 dishes for another double-double to go with 3 key blocks, as the Rockets sealed the game, 112-106.
In the second half, Jabari Smith Jr. was hit in the hip and had to leave the game.
As a team, Houston made 41-of-94 baskets (43.6% FG), sniped 7-of-23 treys (30.4% 3-PT), had more points off turnovers (25 to 9 points) despite committing more turnovers (18 to 10), and had more points in the paint (66 to 46 points), had more blocks (13 to 6), and led by as much as 12 points.
The Rockets are on a mini-roll having won 3-of-5 in their last five after losing 18 of the previous 19 games.
The Rockets had the style to produce better results against the Thunder tonight.
By contrast, the Thunder made 38-of-103 baskets (36.9% FG), sank 12-of-43 treys (27.9% 3-PT), had more steals (11 to 6), dished more assists (22 to 20), were more aggressive evident in more fouls (23 to 20), and briefly led by as much as 6 points.
For OKC, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a decent outing with 24 points that took him 23 shots to produce. Houston held him to 24 points on 7-of-23 shooting. Josh Giddey added 20 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, in a valiant but losing effort.
Houston Rockets (13-38): Host Toronto Raptors (23-30) on Friday night.
OKC Thunder (24-27): Rematch and Host Houston Rockets (13-38) on Saturday night.
Note of appreciation:
The photos, stats and video in this article are courtesy of the NBA and brought to you by PhilBoxing.com
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