James Harden’s return to Oklahoma City didn’t go as well as he likely hoped. The Oklahoma City Thunder (14-2) slammed the Houston Rockets by 22 points for a final 120-98 margin.
It wasn’t really ever close, either.
After a two-point edge in the first quarter, the Thunder rattled off a 16-3 run to begin the second quarter, and they never looked back.
Houston couldn’t stop the Thunder, and the closest it got in the remainder of this one was a 10-point deficit in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. From there on out it was all Thunder.
The game wasn’t uneventful, though, despite the lopsided outcome. Harden got into it down low with Hasheem Thabeet, and the Thunder center was ejected but then subsequently allowed back in the game by referees.
He finished with just three rebounds and three blocks in eight minutes of action.
Harden didn’t fare so well. He didn’t score his first point until nine minutes left in the second quarter and had three shots blocked.
It didn’t get much better for the former Sixth Man of the Year. He shot just 3 of 16 from the field but hit 9 of 11 from the foul stripe to finish with 17 points.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 37, and big man Serge Ibaka posted an impressive 23 points, nine rebounds and six blocks.
Player of the Game: Kevin Durant, F, Thunder
Durant was his normal dominant self in James Harden's return to the Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder superstar finished with 37 points on 13-of-22 shooting, pulled down seven boards and had four dimes.
It's no wonder Harden was able to get so many open looks while on the Thunder's roster. Defenses should definitely be focused on shutting down Durant above all else. That's easier said than done, though.
What’s Next for Houston?
The Rockets will return home and get a few days of rest before hosting the Utah Jazz (8-7) at the Toyota Center on Saturday night. Prior to that engagement, the Jazz will roll through Oklahoma City to take on the red-hot Thunder on Friday night.
What’s Next for Oklahoma City?
As mentioned, the Thunder will host the Jazz on Friday night. Oklahoma City has won 10 of its last 12 matchups heading into Friday night.