The Oklahoma City Thunder withstood an early run and hot shooting by the Houston Rockets, calmly hanging around until the second quarter when they used a run of their own to take a 58-54 lead at halftime. Kevin Martin came off the bench and helped a stagnant Thunder offense come alive. He also helped spark a 12-0 Oklahoma City run in the second quarter, giving the Thunder a lead that they carried into the half.
1. Will OKC Role Players Be Able To Fill In For Russell Westbrook?
Well, Martin is. Martin came off the bench in the first quarter with Oklahoma City trailing by nine and the Rockets on a 12-0 run. From that point on, the Thunder out-scored the Rockets 22-16 and Martin was perfect offensively -- 2-2 from the field, 1-1 from three-point range and 4-4 from the free throw line. He scored nine points in the quarter and 21 in the first half.
In the second quarter, Martin continued his strong play and was joined by Reggie Jackson. Jackson, who is averaging 17 points per game over the last three games, has 10 first half points on 5-8 shooting. He scored eight of those points in the second quarter.
2. Will OKC Players Ease Off Patrick Beverley?
Well, they eased off of everyone early on as the Rockets went on a 15-0 first quarter run and shot above 60 percent for most of the quarter. Beverley is certainly having a quieter game than his last two, where he's averaged 15 points and six assists per game while shooting nearly 50 percent. He's scored just 2 points on 1-4 shooting, but with Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik and Francisco Garcia all making positive first half contributions, the Rockets should be able to overcome an off-game from Beverley. They do need to get James Harden, who has 14 points on 4-11 shooting, going, however.
3. Can The Rockets Set The Scene For An Historic Upset?
The Rockets got off to a much better start than the other team vying for a historic 0-3 series deficit comeback Friday. While the Boston Celtics shot terribly at home and found themselves down 21-5 quickly, the Rockets shot 56 percent and led by three after the first quarter.
Houston has played well and led most of the first half, but the Thunder are providing help for Durant and weathered an early barrage to stay close. Oklahoma City is doing exactly what road teams hope to do in the playoffs -- quietly executing against a team feeding off the energy of its home crowd. Houston's explosive offense is always a concern, but so far, the Thunder have responded to everything the Rockets have done.