Russell Westbrook finished with a ridiculous-looking 51 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists, until you realize it came on 43 shots.
Westbrook notched his first triple-double of his 2016-17 playoffs after totaling an NBA-record 42 of them during the regular season. For me, in the context of this seven-game series between the Thunder and Rockets, Game 2 proved that no matter which way Russ plays, it won't be enough to lift Oklahoma City unless somebody else steps up when Westbrook sits.
Williams added 21 points and combined with Gordon to shoot 16 of 28 overall, including 6 for 10 on threes. When asked about how he would grade his stat line, the NBA MVP candidate responded, "I don't give a f- about the line".More news: United States existing home sales surge 4.4 percent in March
Two games into their series with the Houston Rockets, Westbrook has one more triple-double. His line from Game 2 was nearly identical: 51 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds, 17 of 43 shooting, 2 of 11 on 3s.
Stealing a win on the road would have been huge, but if the Thunder can take their positives from game two and build on them, I would not be surprised if the Thunder even up the series in OKC. But during a stretch late in the third quarter, he helped the Rockets rally from a double-digit deficit to get back in the game with a 12-3 run. No one has missed 2015-16 Westbrook, but that is who we got in Game 2.
Westbrook had four consecutive points to start a 7-1 run after that, but the Thunder wouldn't get any closer. It took Westbrook 43 shots to tally those 51 points, so he only made 39.5 percent of his attempts.
The article also notes that Westbrook became just the second player with both a triple-double and 50 points to lose a game. He pulled Westbrook out for a rest at the end of the third quarter. "It was great timing to knock down a shot like that".More news: Trump Snubs Brady After Brady Snubs Trump at Patriots White House Celebration
Oklahoma City was +11 in the rebounding battle, a must to give the Thunder a chance in the series. The Thunder need to surround a whirlwind like Westbrook with shooters, and a lot of their key rotation cogs can effectively be ignored on the perimeter. On Wednesday night, Houston trailed by as many as 15 and didn't take a lead until the fourth quarter. For Oklahoma City, Doug McDermott hopped off the bench to score his first eight points of the night.
Harden admitted he was passive at times in the first half before changing his mindset in the second. The Rockets have won four straight meetings with the Thunder and they have covered in nine of their last 10 against OKC.
Harden shot 7-of-17 but converted on 18-of-20 from the free throw line. He looked like he was on track to turn in one of his best performances of 2016-17 - the type of game he surely would have reserved for the regular season if he was anxious about votes.
Nene's strength inside has been vital against Oklahoma City's Steven Adams and Enes Kanter.More news: Canada commemorates the centenary of the Vimy WWI battle
"We looked like we needed some energy, looked like we needed a spark and I think in the first and second half (the second unit) was able to do it", he said.