The Oklahoma City Thunder's first game without Russell Westbrook is going swimmingly. Led by the sensational Kevin Durant's 27 points, they have jumped out to a 66-49 halftime lead over the Houston Rockets and look well on their way to a 3-0 series lead.
Durant set out to show that OKC would be able to get along just fine with Westbrook, who underwent surgery for a torn meniscus earlier in the day. Right from the opening tip Durant punished the Rockets inside and outside. He twice went to the rim for dunks in the first quarter, once finishing with authority over Omer Asik, and set the tone for the Thunder. By the time the first quarter came to a close, Durant had 17 points and had almost outscored the Rockets single-handedly as the Thunder took a 39-19 lead.
Jeremy Lin started despite a bruised chest muscle, but he was clearly far from 100%. He scored just two points on 1-4 shooting, had only one assist and shied away from contact both offensively and defensive.
Without a healthy Lin, Houston needed James Harden to have a big game and at least in the first half, he struggled. The shooting guard scored 13 points, but it came on just 4-11 shooting as he failed to make a jump shot.
All the while, Durant continued to knock down shots. He wasn't as dominant in the second quarter as he was in the first, but he still dropped another 10 points against the helpless Rockets to put the Thunder way out in front.
It looked like OKC might turn it into a laugher halfway through the second quarter, but Houston managed to hold off the Thunder surge and with a 14-6 run to close the half, they made a game of things. If they can't find a way to stop Durant and Co. in the second half, though, it won't matter.