Published: Tue, April 18, 2017
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

Harden has 37 points, Rockets rout Thunder, Westbrook 118-87


Patrick Beverley contributed 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, and the centre duo of Nene and Clint Capela were both productive.

The Houston Rockets (55-27) lives in a high-octane offense being led by Harden. After the crushing disappointment of last year's 41-41 record and underachievement, when former teammate Dwight Howard came to town in February and stopped by the Rockets' locker room to say hello to old buddies, Beverley called for security to have him tossed out.

Steven Adams' candid remarks regarding how he and his team struggled against Houston's pick-and-roll game, and an immediate need to regroup.

The Thunder had played solid defense, with nothing to show for it.

James Harden scored 37 points as the Houston Rockets routed Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder 118-87 in the opening game of their National Basketball Association playoff series yesterday.

Defending the Rockets' lethal outside shooting always requires a choice like that.

While this is one game in a seven-game series, and OKC was in a similar position vs. SAS last post-season, a different vibe altogether defines this Thunder grouping. It was getting beat at its own game. And for good reason, throughout the regular campaign, OKC led the National Basketball Association (46.6) in rebounding; whereas, Houston (44.4) ranked eighth. However, what is unacceptable is the Thunder's unwillingness to adhere to team strengths. Boston's second unit started the second quarter 1 for 7 from the field and was outscored 10-0 to surrender the Celtics' first-quarter lead. Victor Oladipo made 1-of-12 shots in his playoff debut.

The final numbers were ugly. Rebounding has to go the Thunder's way to have any chance in this series.

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Harden missed all six of his 3-point attempts in the first half but rebounded to shoot 4 of 8 from the field and 8 of 8 from the free-throw line while scoring 19 of his 37 points following the intermission. That's a recipe for Thunder disaster. "He's one of the most explosive guards in this league, so we were just trying to make it tough on him".

Adams and Kanter have to play better.

Westbrook ended a scoring drought of nearly 3 1/2 minutes for the Thunder with a layup after that.

Part of the problem was OKC's defensive strategy, which switches on all screens and often took Adams, Kanter or Taj Gibson far from the basket.

The Rockets scored the first five points of the second half to push their lead to 10 early in the third quarter.

The shot put the Rockets up 73-62. Houston shot 49.5 percent from the floor despite missing 23 of 33 3-pointers. The Thunder finished with seven offensive boards. But not repeatedly on the same possession.

Oklahoma City head coach Billy Donovan will certainly have plenty of ammo in the film session on Game 1, starting with the lack of execution in things that the Thunder have done all year.

I'm not here to point fingers or anything but that's on the Thunder big men. Teams lose Game 1 and win series all the time.

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