Thunder 117, Rockets 86

Michael Kinney, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Forward Kevin Durant scored 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in leading Oklahoma City to a convincing 117-86 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
It was the second game the Thunder (25-5) have won without injured guard Russell Westbrook. While Durant shined as usual, it was the Thunder's supporting cast that stole the show. Guard Jeremy Lamb came off the bench to score 22 points while Reggie Jackson added 16 points and eight assists starting in Westbrook's place.
Houston (21-12) was led in scoring by reserve guard Aaron Brooks, who scored 17. Forward Chandler Parsons added 15 points. Center Dwight Howard was held to nine points and nine rebounds and guard James Harden scored eight points on 2-for-9 shooting. No one from Houston had more than three assists and the team was outrebounded 49-37.
Oklahoma City's defense started the night roughing up the Rockets. The Thunder didn't allow a basket until there was 5:26 left in the opening quarter. This allowed the Thunder to run out to a 15-2 advantage.
It was beleaguered center Kendrick Perkins who set the tone for the Thunder. He pushed Howard out of the paint and kept him from getting good looks at the baskets and from grabbing offensive rebounds. The Thunder led 26-14 after first quarter.
Without Westbrook in the lineup, the Rockets were able to focus more attention on Durant. But that didn't stop the league's leading scorer from throwing down a couple of powerful dunks on the Rockets' defense and getting to the basket with ease as the Thunder led 56-44 at halftime.
Oklahoma City started the second half just like it did the first. After Houston got to within nine points, the Thunder went on a 10-3 run and forced Houston coach Kevin McHale to call a timeout with 9:39 left in the third.
Durant's shots continued to drop. That included a 3-pointer over an outstretched Harden. Afterward, he turned to the Rockets' bench and told them about it.
Houston couldn't find any rhythm offensively. Not only had the Rockets' inside game been totally shut down, they were unable to connect from long range.
Houston's lackluster defense was the most surprising. The Rockets were unable to stop the Thunder in any facet of the game.
NOTES: Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks would not discusses talks he and G Russell Westbrook had regarding trying to play through his injury or not. "I am not going to get into conversations players and myself have," Brooks said. "Those are personal conversations." ... The Rockets played their fourth game in five nights when they faced Oklahoma City. But coach Kevin McHale would not allow that to be an excuse for the team's recent struggles shooting from 3-point range. "We are not heaving boulders," McHale said. "We are shooting basketballs. I think that weighs like an ounce or two. People that say that are looking for excuses. Just go play." ... Oklahoma City F Kevin Durant has always had an interest in rap and Hip Hop. He showed he is serious about it once again with the release of his track entitled "Whole Life," which features fellow Oklahoma City rappers Josh Salle, Privaledge and CL McCoy.

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