It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That famous line almost seems too easy to use in describing the Rockets 104-92 loss to the Thunder on Thursday night. Yet, it sums the game up perfectly. The Rockets had a record-setting performance on both ends of the spectrum.
They scored 73 points in the first half, the most they’ve scored in a half this season. They also made 12-of-20 3-pointers in the first half. They only had eight games all season in which they’ve connected on 12 or more 3-pointers in an entire game. All that scoring wizardry came against one of the league’s top defensive teams, a team that held the Rockets to 86 points just last month in dominating them 117-86.
Then the second half started. Houston made three shots in the entire third quarter, yet when Donatas Motiejunas scored on a hook shot in the lane with 3:54 left in the period, the Rockets had lost just two points off their halftime lead. But Oklahoma City outscored them 15-3 to end the quarter to tie the game at 83, with twelve minutes to play.
But the Rockets were no better in the fourth quarter than they had been in the third. They did manage to make four shots, going 4-of-19, but they scored only nine points, becoming the first team in NBA history to score at least 70 points in the first half, but fail to score 100 points in the game.
They scored 10 points in the third quarter and just nine in the fourth quarter, easily their lowest scoring quarters of the season and similarly for the second half. The 19 points in the second half set a new franchise-low. The 19 points scored in the second half also tied for the second fewest points scored in a second half in NBA history.
“We missed some shots, had some layups blocked at the rim. We just couldn’t make a basket,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. “We couldn’t score. We just had a terrible time shooting the ball, making simple plays. We couldn’t sustain anything offensively in the second half. Give them credit, they got after us.”
The Rockets had six players score in double figures, led by James Harden and Terrence Jones, who each had 16 points. Motiejunas also came off the bench and posted season-highs with 15 points and seven rebounds. But no Jones’ paltry six points were the most for any Rockets player in the second half.
“We got real stagnant with the basketball and we didn’t move the ball like we should,” James Harden said. “We got the shots we wanted. We got into the paint and we got open shots, we just didn’t get them to go tonight.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 36 points, including 18-of-20 from the free throw line. Serge Ibaka added 21 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots. The Thunder have now won the first two games of the four game season series with the Rockets.