The Oklahoma City Thunder rose to the occasion in Game 6 against the Houston Rockets, and after taking a 2-point lead into the fourth quarter, the Thunder trailed the Rockets 98-92 with just 4:19 left in the game. It was all OKC the rest of the way, though, as back-to-back threes from Chris Paul helped spark a 12-2 Thunder run to finish out the game, giving OKC the 104-100 victory.
Defense was the Difference
The Thunder’s offense has been downright awful for a lot of this series against the Rockets, and they had plenty of off-putting moments tonight. Houston has the ability to take advantage of offensive slumps by their opponents, and the Rockets nearly ran away with Game 6 several times. That did not happen, though.
After some questionable defense at times, particularly from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schröder, the Thunder rallied together as a team and put out a solid effort. SGA and Schröder were forced into guarding Harden at different times after Luguentz Dort picked up 3 fouls early in the first half, and they did a surprisingly good job at slowing him down.
Harden finished with a game-high 32 points, and despite shooting 11-of-22 (50.0%) from the floor, he was just 3-of-11 (27.3%) from downtown. He also tallied 5 turnovers.
The Rockets have done a great job at taking care of the ball, evident by their 11 turnovers per game through the first five games of the series. The Thunder flipped that script in Game 6, however, forcing Houston into 22 mistakes. OKC turned that into 21 points, which made a big difference in the 4-point win.
The only chance that OKC has in winning Game 7 to seal the series is if they can play defense at a high level for 48 more minutes. The Rockets had several double-digit runs in Game 6, and if they manage to do that in Game 7, it might be a knockout punch to the Thunder. Lock in on defense, and the rest will fall into place.
Thunder Player of the Game
The Thunder’s unequivocal leader all season long was the guy to get it done tonight. Chris Paul pulled out all the tricks as he willed OKC to a win. Paul finished with 28 points on 10-of-20 (50.0%) from the floor, including 3-of-6 (50.0%) from downtown, and 5-of-5 (100.0%) from the free throw line. He also recorded 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
This team has gone about as far as Chris Paul has taken them time and time again, and he very clearly was not willing to go quietly into the night. Now, the Thunder has an opportunity to advance to the second round for the first time since 2016, and it will be up to CP3 to make it happen.
One More Chance
On the brink of elimination, OKC pulled out the Game 6 victory, and now they just need one more win to move on to the second round. Game 7 will take place on Wednesday, and it is bound to be another exciting one.
Tip-off for Game 7 on Wednesday is set for 8 PM CT, and it will be televised on TNT and Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.