OKLAHOMA CITY – Russell Westbrook relishes the moments when an opponent challenges him and his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates and it becomes time to respond.
Rookie Patrick Beverley showed a willingness to go toe-to-toe with the Thunder’s All-Star point guard, and the Houston Rockets didn’t back down despite a 15-point deficit in the fourth.
Then it was up to Westbrook and the Thunder to come up with an answer.
Westbrook and Kevin Durant each scored 29 points, and Oklahoma City recovered after squandering its big lead to beat Houston 105-102 on Wednesday night and take a 2-0 series lead.
It’s fun. During this time of the year, as a team we’ve got one goal and we can’t let nobody get in the way, Westbrook said. That’s how I feel and that’s how I want my team to respond as well.
Durant hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 2:28 to play after the Rockets had turned a 15-point deficit into a four-point lead, and the Thunder didn’t relinquish the lead. Durant missed a free throw with 1 second left, but Houston was out of timeouts and Carlos Delfino couldn’t connect on a shot at the final buzzer.
It’s frustrating and it hurts really bad right now, said Chandler Parsons, who scored 17 points for Houston. But you’ve got to take some positives out of it.
Game 3 is Saturday night in Houston.
The Thunder’s big lead melted away with nine straight empty possessions as the Rockets mixed in a zone defense. James Harden spearheaded a 21-2 Houston comeback by getting into the lane to create his own opportunities, and he also kicked the ball out to set up two three-pointers by Delfino. His second three, from the right wing, provided a 95-91 lead with 3:27 to go.
But the Rockets couldn’t keep it up.
We all stuck together, Westbrook said.
Harden had 36 points and 11 rebounds, and Beverley had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Houston.