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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 lose 119-107 in OT to OKC in Game 3; Houston leads series 2-1
Posted: August 22, 2020 -- 9:53 p.m. CT
ORLANDO, FL (ESPN Disney World of Sports Complex) -- The Houston Rockets lost to the OKC Thunder 119-107 in overtime Saturday afternoon / evening. The Rockets still lead the best-of-7 series 2 games to 1.
Houston led 102-97 after Rockets' forward P.J. Tucker swished a corner three-point shot with 59.7 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter. However, OKC guard Chris Paul scored a layup seconds later to trim Houston's lead to 102-99 with 53.2 seconds on the clock.
Houston's Danuel House Jr. turned over the ball when he stepped out of bounds on Houston's next possession. Paul raced up the court and passed to teammate Steven Adams for a layup. Houston led 102-101 with 24.4 seconds remaining.
While Houston tried to get the ball in bounds, Paul was called for a foul away from the ball as he wrapped up James Harden before both players fell to the floor. The referees reviewed the play on the video monitor before confirming the call.
Harden made the 1 foul shot and Houston kept possession of the ball. Advantage Rockets. Houston led 103-101 with the ball. Unfortunately, Houston turned over the ball. P.J. Tucker tossed a pass to Eric Gordon; however, Gordon stumbled; fell to the floor; and Tucker's pass bounced out of bounds.
"He (Tucker) thought he could get it in," Mike D'Antoni, Rockets Head Coach, said after the game. "Part of the game."
On OKC's possession, Paul took a high pick-and-roll; attacked Harden off the dribble; Paul got into the paint; the Rockets' defense collapsed onto Paul; Paul passed to a WIDE OPEN Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the corner; and SGA swished the three-pointer for a 104-103 OKC lead.
Houston called timeout to set up a play. Houston had to call another timeout when Gordon was unable to get the ball in bounds. On the next possession, Houston got the ball inbounds and Danuel House was fouled on his drive to the hoop. House made the first free throw to tie the game; but, he missed the second attempt.
OKC called timeout to set up a play. Chris Paul missed a reverse flip shot at the buzzer which sent the game into overtime.
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After a miss by Tucker began OT, OKC rookie Luguentz Dort missed a three-point shot which Danilo Gallinari rebounded. Gallinari missed the putback; but, Dort grabbed the loose ball; pump-faked Harden and Harden picked up his sixth foul when he made contacted on Dort's shot attempt. With Harden on the bench, the Rockets were outscored 12-0 the next 4 minutes.
Houston had opportunities to win the game; but, turnovers; lapses on defense; and missed shots finally cost them the ball game.
"We allowed that one to get away from us," Jeff Green said after the game. "We know it started on the defensive end."
Green put together another stellar performance for the Rockets with 22 points on 8 for 13 field goal shooting including 5 of Houston's 15 made three-point shots. Green was 5 for 8 from three. The Rockets, as a team, shot 15 for 50 from three.
"We definitely let one get away," James Harden commented. Harden scored 38 points in 37 minutes, 41 seconds; but, He made 12 of his 27 field goal attempts; but, he was 3 for 13 from three-point range. Harden added 8 assists and 7 rebounds before fouling out in the extra five minutes.
The Rockets had a total of 16 team turnovers in Game 3. OKC scored 22 points off the turnovers. Houston had 14 turnovers total in Games 1 and 2.
OKC committed 18 team turnovers which Houston converted into 16 points. Houston outscored OKC 46-36 in the paint. OKC had an 11-7 edge in fast break points and a 10-7 advantage in 2nd chance points.
Dennis Schröder scored 29 points to lead OKC. Chris Paul scored 26; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 23; and Danilo Gallinari scored 20.
"The played well. We didn't play very well," D'Antoni remarked after the game. "Now, it's 2-1. We'll go onto the next one."
Game 4 of the series is Monday, August 24, at 3 p.m. Central Time.
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