The Rockets racked up season-lows in multiple offensive categories, but found a way to win and moved to 9-1 after beating Oklahoma City 69-65.
Patrick Beverley returned after missing the last four games with a hamstring injury and immediately made his presence known by hitting a three for the game’s first points.
“The coaching staff and the coach’s assistants and weight trainer did a good job helping me with my conditioning since I’ve been out. It was a scrappy win. Both teams shot pporly, but we got stops and that’s the biggest thing,” Beverley said.
Beverley also brought the lock-down defense for which he’s become known as he and Trevor Ariza combined to hold the Thunder’s main playmakers (Lamb and Jackson) to just seven points in the first half.
Oklahoma City only shot 22% FG in the first quarter, but got to the free throw line and made 11 of 14 to only trail by five after 12 minutes.
The Rockets shooting wasn’t much better as they scored a season-low 42 in the first half despite outscoring the Thunder in the paint 26-6. Oklahoma City also blocked 11 Rockets shots in the first half, including a career-high 6 from Steven Adams.
However, the Rockets’ defense led the way as they held the Thunder to just 25% shooting in the first half to build their largest lead of the game (9) heading to the locker room.
The third quarter set several new season-lows for Houston as the Thunder rallied to erase the 9-point Houston lead. The Rockets had as many turnovers as points in the third (9) but were able to keep it a tie game heading to the fourth.
The shots still wouldn’t fall in the fourth and Houston finished with a season-low 29% FG and 53% FT, but grabbed a season-high 22 offensive rebounds to keep them in the game. They also held Oklahoma City to an opponent season-low 29% FG.
“We didn’t have a good offensive night. We still got the win. We’re going to have these games where it’s ugly out there and nothing seems to really fall for us…but we just have to keep playing,” Dwight Howard said.
Tempers flared and benches briefly emptied, but the Rockets kept their composure as James Harden drilled the dagger 3 as time wound down to clinch the win for Houston, despite beating their previous season-low in total points by 18.
Harden finished with a game-high 19 points to go with 8 rebounds and 5 assists.
“We weren’t very sharp and we found a way to win, tht’s what it is all about, going out there and grinding out a win. That game will not go into the NBA Hall of Fame,” Kevin McHale said.
The Rockets head to Memphis tomorrow for the second leg of a back-to-back.