The Houston Rockets pulled off a comeback to win Game 2 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. What are the key takeaways from the thrilling game?
Unlike Game 1, Game 2 between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday night was a thrilling encounter, with the Rockets using a late game surge to grab a 2-0 lead in the series. This game had everything, including a Russell Westbrook meltdown that overshadowed what was an overall incredible game from the MVP front-runner.
Meanwhile, the Rockets got off to a sluggish start and were down by double digits up until the final minutes of the third quarter. From that point on they were able to keep the deficit to a manageable amount and got hot from beyond the arc at just the right time to steal the game from Oklahoma City.
Just as we did for Game 1, let’s take a look at some takeaways from this competitive Game 2 as the two teams head to Oklahoma City for Game 3 on Friday.
1. Houston Needs To Come Out With More Energy
It was easy to expect a slight lull from the Rockets after their cruise control win in Game 1. However, getting off to a 20-7 deficit is not a recipe for success, especially as the series moves to Oklahoma City.
The Thunder had more energy, which translated to more effort on defense and on the boards, as the Thunder used their advantages in those aspects to grab a commanding lead early on.
Luckily for Houston, the Thunder bench continued to struggle mightily without Westbrook on the floor, allowing the Rockets to get back in the game and make it just a six-point deficit at halftime.
If the Rockets want to win Game 3 on the road to all but put the series away, they will need to match the energy of the Thunder early on to set the tone.
2. Keep Shooting
The Rockets took just 29 attempts from beyond the arc, which is a credit to the defense of Oklahoma City, as they did an excellent job of closing out hard and running shooters off the three-point line.
With that being said, the Rockets still got a decent amount of open looks. Ryan Anderson was 0-for-7 on threes, as his terrible shooting start to this series continues (he is now 0-for-11 to start the series).
Late in the game, Anderson was hesitant to even shoot, as he attempted to pump fake and drive his way to the rim. Anderson’s main value is to spread the floor and shoot threes, making it imperative that he continue to launch them from beyond the arc. After all, he was a 40 percent shooter during the regular season.
The Rockets are at their best when they are hitting threes, which made it no surprise that they took control of the game as they hit five three-pointers in the fourth quarter alone.
If Anderson and Trevor Ariza get hot from beyond the arc, that could spell serious trouble for the Thunder in Game 3 and beyond.
3. Focus On Oklahoma City’s Role Players
Russell Westbrook had a spectacular game, putting up a 51-point, 13-assist, 10-rebound triple-double in the losing effort. Westbrook torched the Rockets in the regular season, so his performances shouldn’t be a surprise.
However, the Rockets have shown a willingness to live with Westbrook putting up these performances if it comes at the expense of other role players getting involved. This was the case in Game 2, as Westbrook was nearly unstoppable for three quarters, leading him to get in the mindset that he must win the game himself.
Westbrook went in attack mode in the fourth quarter, but it was to no avail as he shot just 4-for-18 in the quarter, while his teammates simply stood around watching on the offensive end. The Thunder offense got stagnant, Westbrook struggled and the Rockets were able to take control.
Houston has to be happy with Westbrook getting in to that mindset more often, especially late in games when Westbrook is more likely to get fatigued. The Rockets must make sure the Thunder role players don’t beat them, which is easier to do if Westbrook gets in attack mode late in games.
Game 3 presents an opportunity for the Rockets to essentially put the series away, but the Thunder will surely come out with the energy expected from a team that is on the brink of going down 3-0, which no NBA team has ever come back from.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference