The Oklahoma City Thunder faced off against the Houston Rockets today in Houston. The outcome wasn’t what the Thunder wanted but there were a lot of positives to take out of the game. The Thunder started out the gates playing aggressive and let their defense translate to offense. Both Russell Westbrook and Paul George love getting in those passing lanes. Combined both of them had 7 steals on the day and were able to create off those turnovers. The Thunder offense didn’t come easy tonight as they worked for a lot of the looks they got to go in. Houston isn’t known for their defense but made some big plays throughout the game in moments that impacted the outcome. One of the bright spots in the Houston Rockets defense and offense was Clint Capela. The Thunder weren’t able to box out Capela for the majority of the game as he finished with 16 points and 23 rebounds. Capela was able to do a lot of his damage when Steven Adams was out the game for his rest and in that 3rd quarter, it got out of hand real quick. The Rockets had control of the boards which is rare to see against the Thunder especially this season.
Paul George did his part on the rebounds as he finished with 14 and was able to play aggressively in the open court. Both Russell Westbrook and Paul George are extremely deadly when it comes to putting pressure on the defense in the open court after a rebound or steal. Paul George has been able to show that he’s a true two-way player as he was able to guard James Harden throughout the game and still managed to be the Thunder leading scorer with 28 points. The growth that Paul George has shown this season has been incredible and also he looks a lot more comfortable in the flow of the offense. Paul George has been on fire as of late and even though he didn’t have the best shooting night he was able to lean on his teammates to help him out. It doesn’t hurt to have an MVP in Russell Westbrook as someone to have your back. Westbrook finished the game with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists on the day. The Rockets tried to get Westbrook off his game today with multiple switches and different looks but Westbrook still managed to dominate his matchup with Austin Rivers. The Thunder had 5 players in double figures and showed a lot of ball movement and trust within each other which is great moving forward. The Thunder had an 11 point lead at a point in the game and lost the momentum as soon as Westbrook and George went to the bench.
James Harden the reigning MVP came to play tonight and the Thunder had Paul George blanketing his every move today. Harden finished with 41 points on 35 shots tonight with 20 misses. The Thunder did their job on the defensive end it was the loose balls and second-chance points that got them in the end. James Harden to his credit was hitting shots with defenders right in his face and was able to create for his teammates. When Harden’s playing like this getting to the line and the basket with his penetration it’s tough to stop the Rockets because it opens up the middle for the bigs. James Harden did James Harden like things tonight down the stretch but this is a new Thunder team with a different defensive mentality. Both these teams will run into each other again and it should be just as good as this one on Christmas Day.
Here are some of the Christmas Day Sneakers in this game
The Thunder will play the Phoenix Suns next on Thursday as they hope to get back in the win column.