Game five means the return of Russell Westbrook.ESPN is reporting that Westbrook is back to being his old self.
"He looked as explosive as ever," that is the quote from an unnamed source after seeing Russell Westbrook scrimmage with the Rockets on Thursday. If there are no setbacks, Westbrook will play in game five vs. The Thunder. Westbrook's return can't come a moment too soon for Houston.
The Rockets have blown fourth-quarter leads in back to back games and find themselves in a dog fight with Oklahoma City. Putting Westbrook back on the floor means there is one less shooter for Houston.
Lu Dort will be tied up with James Harden as he should be, but it would be fun to watch Billy Donovan give him the chance to guard Westbrook if he is proving to be too much to handle.
Because of his injury, Mike D'Antoni could have Westbrook on a minute's restriction.
Westbrook says, "I'm taking it day by day; that's all I can do." ...."Just taking it one day at a time, and that's all I have been doing." ..."That's all I got for ya."
Has happy as Westbrook is to be back competing, like Pual, his mind is outside the bubble.
"I'm excited to play, but I'm more excited that we're playing for a cause."..."We play, and we have our names on the back of our jerseys and our messages on the backs of our jerseys, and that means something, and that's not just something that we put on there for fun or kicks and giggles, but it actually means something it's actually something that I personally take action and take responsibility and being an African-American Athlete."
Thunder/Rockets Saturday at 5:30 on Fox Sports Oklahoma and 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.
Rebecca Harlow saying Russ is looking explosive, that is the second time we have heard that in the last 48 hours. Thunder is not having any luck inside, I though on the first passion, Dort should have gone to the rim instead of passing to Adams. OTH
Both teams are looking a little rusty after the time off, although Russ is doing his best Chris Paul impression with those mid-range jumpers.
Reasonable timeout by Billy Donovan, take that before Houston gets a chance to go on one of their signature runs.
Lu Dort has a short as memory as Russell Westbrook does, whatever happened on the possession before doesn't mean a thing to him, he'll keep shooting. While it might drive you nuts, here is the remarkable thing about Dort's resolve to shoot, unlike Andre Roberson, you see no hesitation, he's confident, and you would rather have that guy on the floor vs. a guy who doesn't believe in what he's doing.
Russ is only playing about 30 minutes tonight. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with the bounce pass to Nerlens Noel to break the dry spell.
Oklahoma City continues to attack the paint, as frustrated as they are right now, there is no reason to go away from the plan, keep getting to the line. Somewhere there is a coach on Arizona State's Campus that's crying because Lu Dort didn't play running back.
That was as bad as a start as you could have gotten off to. Oklahoma City Thunder is shooting 19 percent.
Still down only 24-16.
Darius Bazley hits just the second three-pointer of the game for OKC. Schroder cuts Houston's lead to six. Dennis Schroder, making a case for MVP of the game. He is as close to hot as anyone is in this game. 3/6 9 points, and he ties the game with and one.
James Harden could start to take over this game, Eric Gordon is shaky from beyond the arc, Russ isn't giving you much, and the rest of the worker bees look rusty, be on alert.
Much better second quarter, Thunder trial by three, but Houston isn't going to put them away tonight. As this game goes on Oklahoma City will become more dangerous.
48-45 Rockets at the half.
From ESPN's Bobby Marks:
Each time I watch Dennis Schroder, I'm reminded of the Carmelo Anthony trade of 2018. A reason why you should not waive-and-stretch a large salary. You never know when a player falls out favor/or that team is rebuilding and becomes available.
Oklahoma City had Houston worked deep into the clock and ended up with a bad one on one matchup with Harden and Gilgeous-Alexander. Houston starts off on an 8-0 run to push their lead to 11. 56-45 early in the third quarter.
Thunder is going without Dort early in the second half, Oklahoma City Struggling on both ends to start the third. The Rockets have 8 points off turnovers so far in the quarter.
Billy Donovan takes his second timeout. Thunder look sloppy to start the second half, they can't don't feel they have Dort on the court because of his lack offense, but, they are giving up too much on defense without him.
The Thunder are waiting for Houston to go cold again. What was PJ Tucker thinking?, if this is game 23, Ok, but, doing that in the playoffs, when you're up 18, and the Thunder have comeback 17 teams when trialing after three? That is one of the dumbest things you'll ever see happen the postseason.
Dennis Schroder gets ejected, that is as big a blow to the Thunder as you could have. Schroder has to be smart as well. Think about this if you're the Rockets Schroder would have been gone anyway and you're guy goes with the headbutt?
Schroder's ejection will put more pressure on Dort to score, he may have cost Oklahoma City this game.
Gilgeous-Alexander is playing with four fouls.
More postgame coverage on Inside the Thunder. We'll have video from Billy Donovan and players shortly.