From the opening tip of the night in Oklahoma City, it was clear that the Thunder were in control, and they never faltered in an explosive, 120-91 victory over the Houston Rockets. When Oklahoma City vaulted to a 13-2 lead in the first six minutes (while holding Houston to 0-for-9 from the field), they grabbed control of the pace and the game, generally overwhelming the Rockets for the first of many runs on the night and setting the tone for the final 42 minutes.
Russell Westbrook played a phenomenal all-court game for the Thunder, posting 19 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds in the first three quarters before resting for the duration of the fourth period. It was the “good” version of Westbrook, playing under control with assassin-like precision, shooting a solid 7-for-15 from the field while absolutely dissecting the porous Houston defense. Alongside Westbrook, Kevin Durant (24 points, 6 rebounds) and Serge Ibaka (17 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks) were also tremendous in 3-quarter duty, as OKC’s version of the “big three” certainly lived up to top billing on this night.
On the opposite bench, Houston struggled mightily on both ends of the court. Their vaunted offense was held to just 36% from the field and 22% from three on the night, and while they were able to get to the line effectively (24 attempts), their free-throw production (71%) wasn’t enough to sustain optimum offense. Defensively, the Rockets simply had no answer throughout the night, and league-wide fears about their ability to contest Oklahoma City’s big-time offense looked to be accurate.
The Rockets were able to make a small run in the second quarter, even tying the game at 40-40, but their efforts subsided as the Thunder sprinted to a 10-0 near the end of the half before settling with a 13-point halftime lead. Following the half, Serge Ibaka capped a run with an unexpected 3-pointer at the 4:01 mark of the 3rd quarter, and with the Thunder leading 81-59 after that conversion, they never looked back.
As the series moves forward to game two, it will be critical to Houston’s chances that they simply remove this one from the equation. There is big-time cause for concern on the defensive end, but game one certainly wasn’t an indication of how Houston normally plays offense, and if they can bring their normally efficient offense to Oklahoma City in game two, they’ll be much more competitive. For the Thunder, Sunday night was an absolute exhibition, as the 29-point margin of victory was the largest in OKC playoff history, and if they can maintain that level (or any similar level), this will be a very short series.