Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets: Postgame Grades & Analysis
With less than a second left and a chance to advance to the second round at his fingertips, Serge Ibaka missed what would've been a game-tying layup as time expired, and the Houston Rockets live to fight another day, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-103.
Houston survived without Jeremy Lin, and with James Harden having an uncharacteristically poor offensive performance, turning the ball over 10 times, the most in his career.
Kevin Durant was phenomenal in 42 minutes, proving to the world he's indisputably its second best basketball player. He scored 38 points on just 16 shots.
Point Guards: Reggie Jackson and Patrick Beverley
Jackson showed off his speed quite a bit in the first half, going end to end for a couple layups that caught Houston's transition defense asleep.
As the game's final play broke down, Jackson took a strong drive to the basket but was met by a leaping Omer Asik and missed the shot.
Jackson scored 18 points (second highest on the team) in 36 minutes.
Beverley did a decent job penetrating in the first half, showing off a spin move that got him to the basket on a few occasions.
In the third quarter Beverley was awesome, attacking the basket and knocking down a couple open three-pointers. He finished with 16 points in 37 minutes.
Shooting Guards: Thabo Sefolosha and James Harden
In his opening stint, Sefolosha did very little on either end of the floor before being replaced by Kevin Martin with just over four minutes to go in the first quarter.
He missed all three of his shot attempts in the first half and headed into the third quarter with zero points. Sefolosha finally scored his first two points on a pull-up jumper with about seven minutes left in the third quarter.
Harden didn't score his first points until drawing a pretty and-1 on Serge Ibaka with a little under five minutes to go in the first quarter (he missed the free throw).
Elsewhere, it was an awful first half for him. He finished 1-for-5 with seven turnovers in 21 minutes, which is a recipe for failure.
The third quarter was a different story, as Harden began to right the ship with several trips to the free-throw line and a few and-1s that helped turn the Rockets seven-point halftime deficit into an eight-point lead.
He finished with a career-high 10 turnovers and scored 15 points on 12 shots.
Small Forwards: Kevin Durant and Chandler Parsons
Durant was his typically brilliant self in the first half, scoring 18 points and missing only two shots while existing as the center of Oklahoma City's entire offense.
Parsons began the game making his first two shots, a pull-up mid-range jumper and a straight away three-pointer.
He was Houston's sole source of somewhat consistent offense in the first half, scoring 11 points on 11 shots.
In the second half, he was everything Houston could've asked for, finishing with a team-high 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in what ended up being the best game of his young career.
Power Forwards: Serge Ibaka and Francisco Garcia
With James Harden covering him on his first possession, Ibaka bullied his way down to the paint and scored on an easy jump hook.
For the rest of the game, he was largely ineffective on both ends, attempting fewer shots and scoring fewer points than both his playoff and season average.
Apart from a spoon fed dunk with a couple minutes to go, Ibaka was awful, and the bunny as time expired that would've sent the game to overtime didn't help.
Garcia began the game knocking down a deep three from the left wing. He was also tasked with covering Kevin Durant, fronting him and forcing an early turnover.
He ended up knocking down three threes in the first quarter alone and spent the rest of the game hounding Durant.
Centers: Kendrick Perkins and Omer Asik
It took Thunder head coach Scott Brooks two minutes to realize Kendrick Perkins being on the court would allow Houston to shoot as many threes as they wanted. He was yanked immediately for DeAndre Liggins.
Perkins played just nine minutes and picked up four fouls. His ability to be an effective influence in the NBA is dwindling by the day.
Asik was offensively relevant in the early going, finishing on a strong dunk after slipping a screen. He was huge on the boards (especially the offensive glass) throughout the first half, grabbing nine rebounds with seven coming on the offensive end.
Asik finished with 17 points (second highest on the team) and 14 rebounds. Very impressive outing from him, despite getting dunked on a couple times by Kevin Durant.
Sixth Men: Kevin Martin and Carlos Delfino
Martin stepped in a time machine during the second quarter, leading the Thunder on a 10-0 run with some of the same moves that once made him a 20-points-per-game scorer.
He scored 14 points in the first half but didn't score in the third quarter.
Delfino's opening seven-minute stint was disappointing; he only attempted one three-pointer, and it missed badly.
Later on, however, Delfino woke up, knocking down two three-pointers including one at the end of the first half that came immediately after a slick open court steal from Kevin Durant.
With a few minutes to go in the third quarter, he threw down a ferocious one-handed dunk over Kevin Durant after another steal, this time on Kevin Martin.
DeAndre Liggins was the first member of the Thunder bench to enter the game, replacing Kendrick Perkins just a couple minutes into the game and immediately knocking down a corner three.
Derek Fisher had his best game in what feels like five years, scoring 12 points on four made three-pointers. Nick Collison was ineffective in just 14 minutes of action as the Thunder went with super small lineups.
Aaron Brooks capped off some quality minutes in the first quarter by hitting an off-balance jumper with a couple seconds left. He ended up with seven points.
Greg Smith was the only other Rocket to get off the bench, but he only played 10 minutes and scored a single point.