Before we even go into specifics, there are three things you need to know about this game:
- It was the first preseason game for both teams.
- The Thunder were without Russell Westbrook, Patrick Patterson, and Alex Abrines.
- The Houston Rockets launched 55! three-pointers (Why?)
In essence, the Thunder treated this game like it was a preseason game. Work out little kinks here and there, let the starters get comfortable with each other for the first half, and find out what you have from the bench. Houston, on the other hand, almost treated this game like it was a regular season game. The eight players who will likely be prominently featured in Houston’s rotation all played over 20 minutes, with James Harden leading the way with 29 minutes.
The Houston offense was in mid-season form in the first half, with the Rockets making 12 3-pointers in the first 24 minutes of play. With the Thunder choosing to only play their starters first half minutes, a 5-minute stretch in the second quarter ultimately became the deciding factor in the game. The Thunder were outscored by 13 points in the first 5 minutes of the second, in a stretch that featured 6 three-pointers from the Rockets. The Thunder decided to go cold during that stretch and saw a 2-point deficit grow into a 15-point deficit in that time frame. The Thunder made runs throughout the game, but never got any closer than 6 points the rest of the way.
The Rockets were led by Eric Gordon with 21 points on 6-8 shooting from deep. Trevor Ariza also benefited from the attention Harden and Chris Paul were receiving, scoring 18 points on 5-7 from deep. Harden had 16 points, but, as is usually the case when he faces Andre Roberson, was very inefficient from the field.
For the Thunder, Carmelo Anthony decided to put on a show in the first half, showing Thunder fans that he is still one of the best scorers in the league. Melo scored 19 points in 19 minutes in a variety of ways. Paul George started off slow in the first half, but got hot in the first half of the third quarter, finishing the game with 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists.
- In his home coming, Terrance Ferguson scored 8 points on 2-4 shooting from the field (1-3 from deep) in 19 minutes of action. Ferguson keeps looking like a solid pick for the Thunder, and someone who might have a bright future in this league.
- Daniel Hamilton is known for being a jack of all trades, and he did not disappoint in his debut. He scored 11 points, grabbed 5 boards, and dished out 2 assists in 20 minutes of action. He was a bit inefficient from the field, but he has the ability to affect the game in other ways.
- In the battle of the third string point guards, Isaiah Canaan took this battle, and it wasn’t even close. The disparity probably had a little to do with the fact that Semaj Christon didn’t play in the game, but don’t let that take away from the narrative. Canaan scored 11 points on 2-4 shooting from deep and dished out 6 assists. He looked very comfortable out there, and had a great first showing.
- Scary moment for Steven Adams who went down awkwardly after James Harden jumped on his back and took him down while he was in a weird position. Adams left the game holding his lower back and could not shoot his free throws. Here’s a look at the play:
- The Thunder’s defense is still a work in progress. There were stretches where they looked good, but Houston has a tendency to make even the best defenses look bad from time to time.
Next Up: Friday night in Oklahoma City against the Pelicans at 7:00 PM