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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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Rockets take 2-0 series lead with 111-98 Game 2 win over OKC
Updated: August 20, 2020 -- 9:26 p.m. CT
Posted: August 20, 2020 -- 9:10 p.m. CT
ORLANDO, FL (ESPN Disney World of Sports Complex) -- Danuel House Jr scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half to help the Houston Rockets defeat the OKC Thunder 111-98 Thursday afternoon. With the win, the Rockets take a 2-0 series lead in the first round playoff match-up.
House added 9 rebounds and after the game he said: "Like I said at the beginning of the year, 'do more for this team' because, last year, I felt like I let a lot of people down -- including myself. So, this year, I came in with a new groove. A new mentality."
The first quarter featured 10 lead changes and 6 ties. The largest lead of the opening 12 minutes was 5. Houston led 35-30 at the end of 12 minutes.
The Rockets made 8 of 16 three-point shots in the first period while the Thunder made 2 of 7 from three but 9 of 15 from two point range. OKC outscored the Rockets 12-8 in the paint.
The Rockets offense cooled considerably in the second quarter. Houston shot 21.4% (6 for 28) from the floor and just 10.5% (2 for 19) from three-point land. OKC was efficient with 10 for 20 field goal shooting (4 for 11 threes).
OKC outscored the Rockets 29-18 in the second quarter and led 59-53 at halftime. Houston finished the first half making 10 of 35 three-point attempts for 28.6%.
James Harden made just 2 of his 10 field goal tries in the first half. Eric Gordon shot 3 for 10 from the floor.
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P.J. Tucker sank two 3-point shots early in the third quarter to end the Rockets' drought from three-point range. Danuel House Jr's driving dunk tied the game at 61 with 10:11 remaining in the third period.
OKC was scoreless for nearly five minutes and the Rockets converted a 61-59 deficit into a 69-61 lead with 6:28 to go in the third quarter. Then, the Rockets hit a dry spell and OKC scored 9 straight points to lead 70-69 with 3:48 remaining.
Houston trailed 76-71 when House sank a three-point shot to cut Houston's deficit to 76-74. Houston 78-77 after three periods.
Twelve seconds into the fourth quarter, OKC's Chris Paul sank a pull up jumper for an 80-77 OKC lead. Houston's defense tightened the screws and OKC did not score the next five minutes. Houston went on a 15-0 run with Harden on the bench.
"I thought it started with our defense," Mike D'Antoni, Rockets Head Coach said of the decisive run.
House scored seven points during the run; and, Jeff Green scored six. Gordon scored the other 2 points in the 15-0 blitz.
Harden checked into the game and made 2 free throws to cap a 17-0 run to put the Rockets up 94-80 with 6:43 left in the ball game.
"My teammates have been playing well all year," Harden commented after the game. "They've been after it. Tonight was huge for us."
Green drained another three-point shot for a 97-83 Houston lead. OKC managed to cut Houston's lead to eight (104-96) with 1:43 on the clock; but, Tucker sank his fourth 3-pointer of the game to push the lead to 11. Tucker was a perfect 4-for-4 from three in the ball game.
Harden led the Rockets with 21 points; but, he missed 11 of his 16 field goal attempts. Harden shot 2 for 11 from three. Eric Gordon scored 15; but, Gordon shot 0 for 10 from 3. Jeff Green scored 15 on 6 for 11 field goal shooting. Tucker added 14 points while Ben McLemore scored 11 off the bench and Robert Covington chipped in 10 points.
Houston finished the game with 7 turnovers -- all in the second half.
Houston outscored OKC 58-39 in the second half. OKC shot 37.8% (14 for 37) in the second half including 35.7% (5 for 14) on three-point shots.
Game 3 of the series is Saturday, August 22, at 5 p.m. Central Time.
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