Undermanned Thunder shut down Rockets

Paul George produced 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder won their seventh consecutive game, beating the visiting Houston Rockets 98-80 on Thursday night.

Game leaders

Houston Rockets

  • Points: James Harden – 19
  • Assists: Harden/Paul – 5
  • Rebounds: Harden – 8

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Points: Paul George – 20
  • Assists: Paul George – 6
  • Rebounds: Paul George – 11

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak by the Rockets, who were led by James Harden’s 19 points. But Harden made just seven of 19 shots from the floor and 4-of-12 from behind the three-point line.

Houston’s 80-point scoring effort was the lowest for an NBA team this season.

Steven Adams added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder, while Terrance Ferguson hit four three-pointers to score 14 points.

Both teams struggled from behind the three-point line, though. Oklahoma City shot 9-of-37 (24.3 per cent) from beyond the arc while Houston managed 11 of 42 (26.2 per cent).

The Thunder were without Russell Westbrook for the second consecutive game after the All-Star guard suffered a sprained ankle in Monday’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

But while the Thunder looked lost at times without Westbrook during the season’s first two games as the point guard returned from offseason knee surgery, Oklahoma City used defensive intensity to find a way to win without him this time around, holding the Rockets to just 37.8 per cent shooting from the field.

George also had six steals and six assists.

James Harden was kept in check by Oklahoma City
Image: James Harden was kept in check by Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City closed out each of the first three quarters in strong fashion.

The Thunder scored the final 10 points of the first quarter to take a 29-19 lead early, then finished the second with a 21-6 run to lead by 14 at the break.

The third quarter was low scoring overall but Oklahoma City still outscored the Rockets 14-5 over the final seven minutes to take a 20-point lead going into the fourth.

The game was the first for Carmelo Anthony in Oklahoma City since leaving the Thunder in an offseason trade, which wound up with him being bought out and eventually signing in Houston. He scored just two points, going 1-of -11 from the field in 20 minutes.

Watch the Milwaukee Bucks take on the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday at 8:30pm on a free live stream available on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app

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