However, it wasn't for a lack of trying on Westbrook's part.
In 42 minutes, OKC's floor general totaled 47 points (15-of-34 shooting, 5-of-18 from three), 11 rebounds and nine assists. He also scored 20 points alone in the third quarter to fuel a 27-11 Thunder run that allowed them to wipe away a seven-point halftime deficit and enter the fourth quarter up five:
ESPN Stats & Info illustrated just how special Westbrook was as he single-handedly kept the Thunder alive:
Meanwhile, Twitter had a minor meltdown with Westbrook seemingly in the midst of another Herculean performance:
However, Westbrook's supporting cast came up small once again.
|Russell Westbrook vs. All Other OKC Starters|
Although the Thunder led by five entering the final frame, they coughed that lead up in a hurry when Westbrook received a short breather at the start of the fourth, according to ESPN.com's Royce Young:
From that point forward, the Rockets didn't surrender the lead as their offense started to heat up in concert with some fatigue-induced slippage from Westbrook.
And unlike the Thunder, Houston had several key contributors alongside James Harden, who needed 16 free throws to bully his way to 34 points on 8-of-25 shooting (2-of-13 from three) against a swarming Thunder defense led by Andre Roberson.
One of those supporting stars was Lou Williams, who continued to shine in the postseason spotlight. In 33 minutes off the bench, Williams poured in 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field and 6-of-6 shooting from the free-throw line.
Patrick Beverley was also rather clutch on a night when the Rockets needed to compensate for poor three-point shooting (6-of-37 as a team) with 15 points and eight rebounds, including five on the offensive glass:
Beverley also set the tone in the trash-talking department as he went toe-to-toe with Westbrook during a contentious fourth quarter:
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Thanks to those individual efforts and the Rockets' ability to get easier buckets below the free-throw line—they posted a 50-38 advantage in paint points—they're moving on.
Regardless of which team the Rockets face, the series figures to be a rather lengthy one considering they went 1-3 against the Spurs and 2-2 against the Grizzlies during the regular season.