Recap: Thunder at Rockets |

Recap: Thunder at Rockets |

The big picture

Wednesday night’s battle between the NBA’s two youngest teams was more than a crush, it was a game played more on the ground than above the rim. With an NBA season-high 48 combined offensive rebounds, 24 apiece for the Thunder and Houston Rockets, this game was all about scrap, fighting and toughness and in their home gym, the Rockets had a bit of that. more.

Houston threw the first punch in the opening frame, building up a 12-point lead that it took nearly two full quarters for the Thunder to go away. Eventually, the Thunder overcame that hurdle, using a solid defensive effort in the third quarter to hold the Rockets to just 17 points and take a lead going into the fourth.

In the end though, the Rockets finished as they started, beating the glass (+10 on the night), walking to the free throw line (31 attempts) and blocking shots around the rim (12 overall). The Thunder failed to accelerate the offensive engines enough with quick movement early on possessions and were outscored 28-20 to fourth in what ended up being a 112-106 Rockets victory.


first quarter

Nick: Going into the game, Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said sealing the defensive glass would be a huge factor in this game because the Rockets came into the game as the best offensive rebounding team of the league. Sending in all five guys to smash the glass, the Rockets were able to put some pressure on the Thunder to complete the saves, getting three edge cracks on a pair of separate possessions. The result was five total offensive rebounds, six second-chance points and 22 points in the paint in the first quarter for Houston.

Betting: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stole the ball after a bad pass from Eric Gordon. In transition, Gilgeous-Alexander made contact with Jae’sean Tate, but was not knocked down. The referees called a foul and called a transition foul on Tate. The game resulted in a free throw for the Thunder and the ball. It was a necessary play for the Thunder offense which struggled to find traction in the first frame. Gilgeous-Alexander helped keep the scoreboard moving and added a total of nine points in the first quarter.

second quarter

Nick: On three separate possessions in the second quarter, Kenrich Williams used his patented relentlessness to help manufacture six points for himself and the Thunder. The first came in the opening play of the period, where he held play after having his shot blocked, collected the ball and hit a mid-range jumper. A few plays later, Kenrich stayed alert and sliced ​​into the lane after an offensive rebound from Josh Giddey to score on a cut. As the Thunder redeemed a 12-point deficit to make it a one-possession game, Kenrich again scored two of the Thunder’s 15 second-chance points in the first half on a one-rim cut, again on a pass from Giddey but after an attacking tip. by Darius Bazley.

Betting: After a basket made by Houston, Kenrich Williams collected the ball in bounds and immediately looked down at the ground. Already at the head of the pack, rookie Ousmane Dieng. Williams sent an easy two-handed pass to Dieng who completed the quick layup at the break. A few possessions later, Williams again acted as a facilitator, but this time in half court. The veteran winger patiently let the attack play out before breaking the ball under the rim to a cutting Tre Mann for an easy reverse layup that forced Houston to call a timeout.

Third quarter

Bets: Jaylin Williams made his eighth career start for the Thunder against the Rockets. The rookie had knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the Thunder’s previous two games and he continued that streak in the third quarter at Houston. The rookie’s first 3-pointer came from an offensive rebound and flat from Jalen Williams and the second came from a simple drive and kick from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The big man from Arkansas recently threw the ball with confidence and finished the night with seven points in 12 minutes of action.

Nick: After trailing for the entire first half and most of the third quarter, the Thunder closed in and then broke out on a 7-0 run to take their first lead of the game. Kenrich Williams made a steal, which led to a runout from Josh Giddey, who sprinted to the middle of the floor to beat two Houston defenders to finish on the edge. In Giddey’s 100th career NBA game, he notched his 44th 10-5-5 game and 31st 15-5-5 game with 20 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. One possession later, Isaiah Joe wrapped around a screen on an out-of-bounds baseline and buried a 3 to give the Thunder a 77-75 lead.

Fourth trimester

Nick: With the Thunder trailing by two, sophomore guard Tre Mann stuck his nose in a long offensive rebound and came with the loose ball, setting up a slide to the edge by Josh Giddey to tie the game at 93 with 8:04 to go. Mann grabbed five rebounds off the bench, took a charge, and had 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including four 3-pointers. Aggressive from the first minutes he was on the ground and scrappy on both sides, Mann demonstrated the kind of fight the Thunder tried to show Wednesday night, but the team couldn’t quite come together for the 48 minutes.

Betting: Kenrich Williams entered fearlessly into the path of Jae’Sean Tate who was accelerating downhill to the edge. It was Williams’ second charge fired for the night and 23rd of the season that leads not only the Thunder, but all NBA players. Williams more than doubled his tally from last season when he drew just nine overall, but with more time at position five to keep the bigger players, Williams found himself increasingly able to put his body into play and take those charges.


“I thought [Houston] set the tone for the game in the first half and put us on our heels so we had to react to that. We did a good job but if you want to come on the road and come away with a win you have to be more ready from the jump and I thought they were the more ready team. —Marc Daigneault

“We know we slipped and lost one tonight that we very well could have gotten. We took the lead in this third and you have to stick with it and run away with it. Good opportunity – we have these guys in a few nights and we’ll be ready. -Josh Giddey

And after

OKC returns to Oklahoma City for a couple of days off before hosting the Rockets at Paycom Center on Saturday night. It will be a brief trip home before the Thunder embark on a three-game West Coast road trip that kicks off Monday at Golden State.

Wednesday’s pictures

By Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder

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