Basketball: Rockets' late blast secures win

Houston's Lou Williams taking a shot while off balance, as Enes Kanter of Oklahoma City defends. The guard came off the bench to score 21 points, and the Rockets are up 2-0 in their Western Conference first-round play-off series after coming from beh
Houston's Lou Williams taking a shot while off balance, as Enes Kanter of Oklahoma City defends. The guard came off the bench to score 21 points, and the Rockets are up 2-0 in their Western Conference first-round play-off series after coming from behind to beat the Thunder 115-111.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Westbrook's super triple-double not enough to carry Thunder as he runs out of steam

HOUSTON • Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook delivered a historic performance in line with so many others produced during the regular season, but there was a measure of late inefficiency that accompanied what he did that proved haunting.

He posted a triple-double of 51 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists. His scoring total was the highest for a post-season triple-double in National Basketball Association history.

But, with Westbrook fading down the stretch, the Houston Rockets' reserve guards Eric Gordon and Lou Williams caught fire as they erased a 15-point deficit and rallied past the Thunder 115-111 on Wednesday at Toyota Centre in Game Two of their Western Conference first-round post-season series.

Gordon gave the Rockets their first lead with his three-pointer with 8min 8sec left in the fourth quarter at 96-94. Williams followed with a three on the ensuing possession, before James Harden added another three-pointer for a 104-100 lead with 5:16 remaining.

Gordon then delivered the decisive blow with 1:48 left, drilling a 28-footer off a Harden pass to extend the lead to eight. The Rockets reeled off a 12-3 run to end the third quarter and two 10-0 spurts in the fourth to complete the long comeback from their early double-digit deficit.

GREAT RECOVERY

We lit a fire off the bench and in the second half we just played better overall defence. It was good that we kept the pace going. In the second half, we had a great collective effort.

ERIC GORDON, who scored 22 points, on the inspiration he and fellow Houston reserve guard gave to the team.

"They had a great start and it was great composure on our part to stay within the game," said Gordon, who totalled 22 points and four rebounds in 30 minutes.

"We lit a fire off the bench and in the second half we just played better overall defence. It was good that we kept the pace going. In the second half, we had a great collective effort."

Williams added 21 points and combined with Gordon to shoot 16 of 28 overall, including 6 for 10 on threes.

Harden had 35 points and eight assists and was 18 for 20 from the free-throw line. Houston were 5 of 9 from behind the arc in the fourth quarter.

In the aftermath, all Westbrook had to hold was another breathtaking statistics line, one that provided no solace given the team result. "I don't give a (expletive) about the line," he said. "We lost."

He missed 14 shots in the fourth, the most misses in any quarter in the last 20 NBA play-offs.

"It's not like it is going to be a surprise to anybody. We know what we have to do," said Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni of stopping Westbrook.

Game Three is today in Oklahoma City at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

OKLAHOMA CITY V HOUSTON

West 1st rd, Game 3: Singtel TV Ch110, tomorrow, 9.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2017, with the headline 'Rockets' late blast secures win'. Print Edition | Subscribe