HOUSTON – The upstart Houston Rockets have done it again. They’ve now defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder twice in-a-row to cut OKC’s lead to 3-2 in the best-of-7 NBA playoff series. The Rockets out-shot the Thunder in Wednesday night’s fifth game at “The Peake” downtown, and OKC was never in the game. Houston ended up making 14 three-point baskets while the Thunder, at one time, was just 1-17 from behind the arc.
Former Thunder star James Harden was suffering from what the Rockets called “flu-like symptoms” before the game, and maybe Harden needs to feel badly before every game. Because when the contest started, Harden was unstoppable – hitting his first seven 3-point attempts and finishing with a team-high 31 points, leading a parade of six Houston players scoring in double figures. 7-foot center Omer Asik, a noted poor free throw shooter, was repeatedly fouled in the 4th quarter as the Thunder desperately tried to get back in it…but Asik ended up hitting 13-18 from the line to finish with his 2nd straight “double-double”, scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Shooting guard Francisco Garcia tossed in 18, the crowd “villian” Patrick Beverley (who injured OKC star Russell Westbrook in game #2) finished with 14 while Chandler Parsons and Aaron Brooks put in 10 points apiece. The Rockets again scorched the Thunder with a monster 3rd quarter, scoring 37 points after scoring 38 points in the 3rd period of the game #4 win in Houston.
Kevin Durant was all the Thunder had offensively, with 36 points, but Durant was held scoreless in the 4th quarter on 0-5 shooting. For the game, Durant hit just 1-8 from behind the 3-point line. 2nd year point guard Reggie Jackson scored 11 of his 20 points in the 4th period while Serge Ibaka scored 14 points and yanked down nine rebounds. Once again, the “spark” off the bench, Kevin Martin, did *not* produce for the Thunder. “KMart” finished 1-10 from the field, including 0-5 from the 3-point line to add to his miserable series so far. In the last three games, Martin has scored just four points combined in the 2nd half, after big opening halves in games 2 and 3.
The Thunder will try, again, to eliminate Houston in game #6 which starts Friday night at 8:30 from the Toyota Center in Houston – and if the Rockets win, the 7th and deciding game of the series will be played back in Oklahoma City Sunday afternoon at 2:30pm. It’s important to note that NO team has EVER come from down 0-3 to win a best-of-7 game series in the NBA playoffs. The Thunder does NOT want to be the first team EVER to have it happen to them. Here are some comments from the players and coaches after game #5.