For the game, the two bench guys finished a combined 6 for 10 from downtown, and they were the fuel behind the +7 spark that took them from down six at the start of the fourth quarter to up one when Harden returned.
How would Westbrook - a player doubted by countless sports analysts, a man whose friend walked out on the Thunder, a teammate stuck on a weak roster - respond?
Russell Westbrook's 51 points counted for nothing as the Houston Rockets took a 2-0 lead in their National Basketball Association play-offs first-round series. Though he had just five points and seven rebounds in that time, OKC were plus-18 points while the New Zealander was on court.
Westbrook won the individual battle, scoring 51 points with 13 assists and 10 rebounds, the highest-scoring 50-plus-point triple-double game in playoff history.
In this collision of NBA Most Valuable Player award candidates, James Harden was decidedly better during Houston's Game 1 blowout of the Thunder. The last player to average 30 points and 10 rebounds throughout a season was hall-of-famer Karl Malone in the 1989-90 season.
"I don't give a [expletive] about the line", he said before glaring at reporters. Oladipo, Oklahoma City's No. 2 scorer in the regular season, is averaging 8.5 points and shooting a woeful 19 percent from the field in the series. Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni was thrilled with the superb showing but quickly changed gears to remind his club that the 31-point shellacking still only counts as one win.
4. Bench scoring One of the biggest differences between this season's Rockets team and last season's is that, with Eric Gordon and Lou Williams as the catalysts for the second unit, they remain at least somewhat risky offensively in the 10 to 12 minutes that James Harden rests, and we saw that in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, as each guy hit a monster three in the possessions right before Harden returned to the game. It's also too bad that Oklahoma City couldn't make good use out of Andre Roberson going four-of-six from three. Trevor Ariza, and Ryan Anderson both have had disappointing nights in Games 1 and 2, and if they also start firing, this could get even uglier for Westbrook and the Thunder.
Afterward, Westbrook denied fatigue played any role. He hoisted 18 shots in the fourth quarter, more than anyone took in the game, and only made four.
Gordon gave the Rockets their first lead with his 3-pointer at the 8:07 mark of the fourth quarter at 96-94.
For three quarters, Westbrook was practically channeling Harden, peppering the Rockets defense with a lethal combination of midrange jump shots and savvy assists to open teammates.
"He wants to do great like every player", Westbrook said.
Close Modal Window Hang on for a minute.we're trying to find some more stories you might like. McDermott finished with 11 points in 14 minutes.
So, when he's not executing, the vast majority of the Thunder offense can't get going.
The Rockets are in their current position despite not playing well throughout all of Game 2.
But still it wasn't enough as the more well-balanced Rockets came roaring back from a 12-point deficit late in the third quarter to haul in the fading Thunder.
Sandoval said Westbrook was always present, very involved and an overall good student-athlete during his time in college. "Whatever these guys do collectively as a group, it doesn't surprise me. And his personnel we just go out there and compete for him and try to win as many games for him". Westbrook, on the other hand, shot a whopping 43 times from the floor on Wednesday.