When the Thunder broke the huddle prior to the start of the overtime, the team had a new five-man lineup for the final five minutes.
It was forward Danilo Gallinari — not Steven Adams or Nerlens Noel, who handled the jump ball for the Thunder — and he was joined by guards Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroder and Luguentz Dort.
Despite not having one of its traditional big men on the floor, the Thunder still made a huge impact on the offensive glass in overtime. Gallinari grabbed an offensive board on the team’s second possession, and Rockets guard James Harden picked up his sixth and final foul on a Dort putback attempt.
On the team’s next possession, a missed layup by Schroder was rebounded by Dort, and the ball eventually found Paul for a clutch 3-pointer.
It was reported by the ESPN broadcast that Adams had suffered a right knee contusion late in the fourth quarter. After the game, Thunder coach Billy Donovan said Adams was available in overtime, but Donovan instead opted to ride the Thunder’s small-ball lineup.
“Steven was available to come back in, but I thought the group (on the floor) was going okay, and I felt like we were rebounding the ball and I felt like they did a pretty good job,” Donovan said. “There weren't a lot of drives to the basket (by the Rockets). They were taking threes to get back in it. I thought Dort’s effort on Harden and (Eric) Gordon was really, really great.”
• Short rotation for the Thunder: Donovan played just eight players on Saturday.
10 players logged minutes in Games 1 and 2, but only Schroder, Noel and rookie Darius Bazley came off the bench on Saturday. Regular rotation players Hamidou Diallo, Terrance Ferguson and Abdel Nader did not play.
The shortened rotation, combined with five minutes of overtime, meant more minutes for the Thunder’s guards. Gilgeous-Alexander played 48 minutes of 53 possible minutes, Paul played 40 minutes and Schroder played 39 minutes.
• Rocket’s Gordon continues to struggle: Gordon followed up Thursday’s 6-of-20 shooting performance, including 0-of-10 from 3, with 18 points on 8-8-of-24 shooting on Saturday.
The Rockets needed more from Gordon on Saturday, especially in the absence of Russell Westbrook. But the Thunder’s defense has done a solid job of taking away driving lanes and open 3-pointers from Gordon in the last two games.
Gordon’s struggles and Westbrook’s absence have made things a little easier on the Thunder’s defense.
Game 4 is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Monday. The game will air on FOX Sports Oklahoma, TNT and WWLS-FM 98.1 in Oklahoma City.