NBA Analysis: Thunder Beat Struggling Rockets


Thunder 116, Rockets 99

When it rains it pours.

One night after losing a heartbreaker against the Chicago Bulls and to one of the NBA’s best young stars Derrick Rose, the Rockets fell 116-99 to the Thunder and 22-year-old phenom Kevin Durant.

The combination of Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook was too much for the Rockets.  The duo combined for 45 points 16 assists and 10 rebounds in just barely over three quarters of play.

The Rockets, on the other hand, entered the fourth quarter with a double digit deficit and had little chance for a comeback despite Luis Scola’s best efforts.

Scola continued his assault on the stat sheet this season with an impressive 26 points and 8 rebounds.  He has been the Rockets’ go-to scorer this season and the team relied on him to score the opening basket to take the early 2-0 lead.

Unfortunately, Scola’s basket was the only time the Rockets held the lead the entire game. Durant, Westbrook and most of the other Oklahoma City starters were able to rest for a good portion of the fourth quarter.

The Rockets best chance in the second half came midway through the third quarter.  A Kevin Martin lay-up pulled the Rockets within six in a 75-69 game.  It was the closest the Rockets would get the rest of the way as they failed to capitalize on the opportunity and entered the fourth quarter trailing by 15 points.

Both teams were missing prominent players with various injuries.  Rockets guard Aaron Brooks missed his six straight game and Yao Ming his fifth straight game; both have sprained ankles.  Thunder forward Jeff Green also was unable to play with his own ankle injury.

Kevin Martin played a solid game with 19 points but was unable to make up for the lack of scoring that usually comes from the point guard position.  Without Aaron Brooks the Rockets couldn’t keep up the pace offensively as starting guard Kyle Lowry managed only two points and was 0-3 from the floor.

Things I noticed

  • The Rockets are widely considered one of the deepest teams in the entire NBA. However, is that a good thing?  The Thunder have one of the most talented young line-ups in the league and it showed tonight.  Aside from Scola and Martin it seemed like the Thunder were playing against an inferior opponent.  Maybe the Rockets play 10-12 guys a night because the starters simply aren’t that good.
  • The Rockets miss Aaron Brooks more than Yao Ming.  Brooks will never be considered a great defensive point guard, but what he lacks in defense he makes up for on offense.  The last two games Kyle Lowry and Ishmael Smith have done a terrible job of defending both Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.  I am not saying that Aaron Brooks could have done any better against these premier guards, but he likely would have tired them out more when he had the ball on offense.  Brooks also would have managed more than the measly two points put up by Lowry tonight.  Lowry has managed only nine points in the last two games and it is causing the Rockets offense to sputter.  This team is built to win games by outscoring their opponents and they have failed to crack the century mark for two consecutive games.


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