Kevin Durant, Thunder solve Rockets' zone

USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder made just enough plays after the Houston Rockets implemented a zone that had Kevin Durant and company off-kilter.

Of the major changes that the Houston Rockets implemented against Oklahoma City in Game 2 of the first-round series, a second-half zone defense was the one that made Thunder coach Scott Brooks uneasy. Then again, a 105-102 victory and a 2-0 series lead is nothing to gripe about.

"We made a little adjustment in the zone," said Brooks, whose team relinquished a 15-point lead with three minutes remaining to go down by four points. "We had Kevin handling the zone up top. Kevin's improved his playmaking. He enjoys passing the ball. I thought his trust tonight was critical. He trusted his teammates tonight."

Durant scored 29, but it was his final two assists that resulted in the biggest points of all. With the Thunder leading by a point, Durant drove and kicked the ball to Thabo Sefolosha atop the right wing. Sefolosha splashed the open three -- open because Rockets forward Chandler Parsons was being held -- and a play later Durant found forward Serge Ibaka for a long two to give Oklahoma City a five-point lead with 31 seconds to play.

"They threw that zone at us, which I think kind of caught us off guard," Durant said. "But we stayed aggressive."

The issue with the zone wasn't that the team was forced to take threes. In fact, Durant and Brooks welcomed the long shots so long as the ball was moving. Brooks said that the Thunder needed to work on turning the ball over, and he counted around five or six miscues against the defensive change-up.

"Zones usually don't make you turn the ball over but we did that tonight," the Thunder coach said. "I can imagine it was just mental mistakes that we can improve on."

But even against the zone, Oklahoma City found enough offense to score 27 points in the fourth quarter, just enough to survive the Rockets' upset bid.

Source: Quotes via NBA.com's live postseason media conference stream.

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