Know Your Foe: Rockets- Thunder
The Rockets and Thunder got a lot closer last year after Houston acquired James Harden just prior to the season starting and then when the two teams met in the opening round of the playoffs. The Thunder won two of three games against Houston during the regular season, then won their best of seven first round series, four games to two.
James Harden averaged 29.3 points per game against his former team in the regular season, his highest scoring average against any NBA team. Although those are his only three games against the Thunder obviously, while he’s faced every other NBA team at least even times.
This the first of four meeting this season for the Thunder and Rockets.
Who are the Thunder?
The Thunder are tied for the league’s best record at 24-5 and have won 19 of their last 21 games. They’ll be without guard Russell Westbrook for the second consecutive game after he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He’s expected to be out until the all-star break in February. He had a triple-double 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists) in his final game before the procedure.
Kevin Durant leads the NBA in scoring at 28.3 points per game. He’s also averaging 8.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, both are career bests. He has 14 games of 30+ points, most in the NBA.
Reggie Jackson starts in Westbrook’s place, he was just 4-of-19 shooting in their last game with ten points, but also had zero turnovers in 30 minutes. He’s made just 11-of-46 shots (24 percent) in his last three games.
The Thunder are 13-1 at home, with their lone loss coming in their most recent home game. They held a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but were outscored by the Toronto Raptors, 29-14 in the fourth period, the fewest points in a fourth quarter for the Thunder this season.
Thunder’s Last Game
Oklahoma City won 89-85 on the road at Charlotte, behind 34 points, 12 rebounds and six assists from Kevin Durant. It was the seventh straight road win for the Thunder. Durant scored 14 of his points in the fourth quarter and led five Thunder players scoring in double figures, 12 points each from Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha and 10 apiece from Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb.