James Harden and a hot-shooting Houston Rockets squad hacked out a resounding 123-108 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of their first-round playoff match-up.
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With the Rockets firing from all cylinders, Chris Paul and the Thunder never stood a chance. Harden led all scorers with 37 markers, to go along with his 11 rebounds and 3 assists. The former MVP also drained six three-pointers, and produced an efficient 54% clip from the field.
But the win wasn’t just earned because of Harden’s brilliance. Even without their injured star in Russell Westbrook, the Rockets’ supporting cast answered the call. Veteran combo big man Jeff Green chipped in 22 points, 6 boards and 4 dimes off the bench, while Eric Gordon flourished in a starting role and contributed 21 markers.
It was a disappointing result for the Thunder, who were supposed to take advantage of Westbrook’s absence. Danilo Gallinari topscored for the losing team as he finished with 29 points, while Paul almost notched a triple-double night with his 20 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals. Steven Adams also chipped in 17 points and 12 boards.
If the Thunder wants to tie the series in Game 2, they have to do a better job in closing out on Houston’s shooters. The Rockets had another solid shooting display, making 20 triples in the win.
Rockets (123) – Harden 37, Green 22, Gordon 21, McLemore 14, Tucker 11, House Jr. 9, Rivers 4, Covington 3, Caboclo 2, Carroll 0, Frazier 0
Thunder (108) – Gallinari 29, Paul 20, Adams 17, Bazley 9, Gilgeous-Alexander 9, Diallo 7, Ferguson 6, Schroder 6, Muscala 3, Noel 2, Roberson 0, Nader 0, Burton 0