OKLAHOMA CITY —
“It wasn’t good at all,” Harden said. “We just look tired out there. This is four in five nights for us. We looked kind of sluggish out there. We didn’t have our mojo out there like we needed to.”
Oklahoma City’s defense started the night roughing up the Rockets. The Thunder didn’t allow a basket until there was 5:26 left in the opening quarter. This allowed the Thunder to run out to a 15-2 advantage.
It was beleaguered center Kendrick Perkins who set the tone for the Thunder. He pushed Howard out of the paint and kept him from getting good looks at the basket and from grabbing offensive rebounds. The Thunder led 26-14 after first quarter.
“Perkins did a good job of making Howard’s shots tough and also made his catches difficult,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “I thought he did a good job of using his strength and his body on interior defense.”
Without Westbrook in the lineup, the Rockets were able to focus more attention on Durant. But that didn’t stop the league’s leading scorer from throwing down a couple of powerful dunks on the Rockets’ defense and getting to the basket with ease as the Thunder led 56-44 at halftime.
“I’m not one of those guys that can turn it on and turn it off,” Durant said. “There will be good nights and bad nights. I just try and keep my intensity at the same level every time I step on the court.”
Durant’s shots continued to drop in second half. That included a 3-pointer over an outstretched Harden. Afterward, he turned to the Rockets’ bench and told them about it.
“I’m liking the mean KD,” Perkins said. “Giving staredowns when he’s dunking on people. I’m rollin’ with this.”
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