The Oklahoma City Thunder survived a late scare in their first game without All-Star Russell Westbrook to beat the Houston Rockets 104-101 and take a 3-0 lead in the playoff series Saturday night in Houston. Kevin Durant scored 41 points, tying his record for most points in a playoff game.
The Thunder came out strong, leading 39-19 in the first quarter and going into the third quarter leading by 26 points. The Rockets struck back and actually took the lead with only four minutes left and maintained it with seconds to go. Durant came to the rescue and scored a three-pointer that hit the back of the rim and then the front before it finally went in, putting the Thunder up 100-99.
Houston’s James Harden tried to drive, but he inadvertently threw it to Derek Fisher. The Rockets fouled him and Fisher made both free throws, giving the Thunder a three- point lead.
The Rockets’ Carlos Delfino’s three-pointer to tie the game then failed to go in.
Durant also had 14 rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block. Harden led the Rockets with 30 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks.
Russell Westbrook was injured in the second quarter of game two when Patrick Beverley tried to steal the ball from Westbrook as he was slowing down to call a timeout and ran into his knee. The Thunder did not forget and 29 seconds into the game Kendrick Perkins sent a strong message. During their first possession Perkins flattened Beverley right at half-court. Perkins was called for an offensive foul and the Thunder turned over the ball.
Game four is Monday night in Houston.