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Westbrook, Harden Friendship on Hold During Series

James Harden was ice cold from behind the 3-point arc. By halftime he'd missed four more from beyond the arc.

"He does it every game", said Harden, who finished with 37 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists.

So on Sunday night, in trouncing the Thunder by a score of 118-87, not only did the Rockets absolutely and utterly curb stomp Oklahoma City into a 1-0 deficit in their best of seven playoff series, but they are also one-fourth of the way to exposing the Westbrook MVP voters for the surface-thinking, raw-stat worshipping humps that they are. "He's just staring me down". This game, with the game-winning shot and all, may have earned him his first Most Valuable Player award. In Houston's spread floor offense, Harden has carte blanche, room to create, to paint the ideal scoring picture.

Coming in, rebounding was considered one of Oklahoma City's lone advantageous areas opposite Houston.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden is incredibly hard to defend, especially for a center. They doubled up the Thunder on the offensive glass; OKC's second-leading rebounder, Steven Adams, only had five boards total. "The bigs, especially me, played trash on the reads, and the pick-and-rolls were absolute garbage".

"We just gotta bounce back", Gibson said.

While his numbers were surreal, most paid attention to the rivals - the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sunday, they were outrebounded 56-41.

"He just has a way of getting you fired up", Watt said. And for good reason, throughout the regular campaign, OKC led the National Basketball Association (46.6) in rebounding; whereas, Houston (44.4) ranked eighth. With the Rockets shooting this hot, they'll definitely be a handful. After crashing to the floor, Beverley made all three of the shots he took for eight points. "He sees so many bodies every night and so many double teams". Not only did the Rockets win, but he went 13-for-28 shooting compared to Brodie's 6-for-23 display. And they were switching everything and he was just exploiting what was there.

While averaging 11.4 assists in a season is elite, regardless of who you are passing to, it is made a lot easier when your teammates are capitalizing on their open looks.

Even as the Thunder adequately halted Houston's overt three-point tendencies (10-33 3PA), this undertaking was waylayed by the Rockets' unabated post presence.

Beverley's job is to be the Rockets' antagonist, and he plays it on and off the court.

"He's confident in what he has", Harden said.

Game two of the series is Tuesday at the Garden.

The Thunder's offense was a tire fire in Game 1 against the Houston Rockets, managing just 87.7 points per 100 possessions, a mark that would have ranked last in the league by almost 13 points. While Denver was playing for a spot in the postseason, Oklahoma City was playing to get Westbrook in the history books. "I try to get these guys shots, making sure everyone is in a good rhythm".

Yet, with Beverly in tow, Victor Oladipo's output dwindled (17-44 FG in 3 losses vs. Hou) as Westbrook's number of forced attempts (27 FGA) rose.

Then Beverley got up and acted as if nothing had happened. When he was subbed out a few minutes later, Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who was sitting courtside next to the Rockets bench.

Beverley was not put down for long by Adams' screen.

Game 2 is Wednesday night at Toyota Center.



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