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Rockets, Harden win Game 5 over Thunder
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On May 2, 2013 @ 12:56 am In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
OKLAHOMA CITY — In their first home playoff game without injured point guard Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder looked like a shell of the team that had won the first two games of this series here at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
And after a 107-100 loss to the eighth-seeded Rockets in Game 5, the top seed in the Western Conference now finds itself in a protracted first-round battle that few saw coming.
Now trailing 3-2 in the series, the Rockets will enter Game 6 in Houston on Friday will their confidence soaring. James Harden, who made 7 of 9 three-point shots, led the Rockets with 31 points.
The Thunder’s Kevin Durant scored 36 but struggled shooting behind the three-point arc, as did the rest of his teammates. The Thunder made just 1 of 12 three-point shots in the first half and 8 of 33 overall in the game.
Unable to stop the Rockets, who thrived beyond the three-point line, the Thunder resorted to repeatedly fouling center Omer Asik, a 56.2 percent free throw shooter during the regular season, in the final six minutes of the game. They fouled Asik on six straight possessions, but he made 8 of those 12 free-throw attempts.
Ever since a 29-point loss in Game 1, the Rockets have staged a serious challenge against the Thunder. And the absence of Westbrook, who tore his meniscus in the Game 2 victory, has left a significant void, even against the NBA’s youngest and one of the least credible defensive teams that played its second straight game without injured guard Jeremy Lin.
From the game’s start, Thunder fans made clear who the most unpopular person was within city limits: Patrick Beverley, the Rockets point guard whose lunge at Westbrook in Game 2 caused him to tear his meniscus. They booed Beverley at every opportunity.
Harden made all three of his three-point shots in the first quarter, scoring 11 points in the game’s opening 12 minutes. The Rockets had 16 points five minutes into action, looking as if they could duplicate their 38-point third-quarter effort in Game 4.… [For more on Rockets follow James Harden to Game 5 win over Thunder, click here.]
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