The Oklahoma City Thunder's backs were placed against the wall, but the defending Western Conference champs are finally moving on to the second round of the 2013 NBA playoffs.
Thanks to a renewed effort on defense and some timely scoring from tertiary players, the Thunder finally buried the Houston Rockets in Game 6, winning 103-94 at the Toyota Center.
Kevin Durant again led the way for Oklahoma City, scoring 27 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out six assists. Friday marked the first time since Russell Westbrook's injury that Durant scored fewer than 36 points.
Luckily, Scott Brooks' move to a small-ball lineup rejuvenated the team's offensive flow—particularly at guard. Reggie Jackson finished with 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, but the true hero was Kevin Martin, who had been a goat in the series for Oklahoma City.
Struggling since Westbrook's injury, Martin's jumper came alive on Friday—particularly when he was on the floor with Nick Collison. Martin scored 21 points in the first half en route to finishing with 25.
Meanwhile, the lid finally was placed back on the bucket for the Rockets. After making the Thunder defense look silly by knocking down shots from all over the floor, Houston was unable to find its rhythm in Game 6.
James Harden scored 26 points, but did so on a dreadful 7-of-22 from the field. Chandler Parsons helped pick up the slack with an efficient 25-point effort, but Patrick Beverley (eight points, zero assists) and the entire bench disappeared.
Friday marks a bittersweet end for the Rockets, a team that far exceeded every preseason expectation.
The Thunder will face the Memphis Grizzlies in Round 2, who defeated the Los Angeles Clippers to advance Friday night.