Chris Paul outplayed Russell Westbrook and James Harden down the stretch to assist the Thunder for a Recreation 7 in opposition to the Rockets.
With their backs in opposition to the wall, the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder responded in an enormous approach in Recreation 6, utilizing suffocating protection and a few exact late-game execution to pressure Recreation 7. Russell Westbrook and James Harden shot properly, combining for 49 factors on 37 photographs from the sector, however in addition they mixed for 12 turnovers and had been simply Three-for-11 within the essential fourth quarter.
Oklahoma Metropolis trailed by as many as eight factors however stored the margin shut and crept forward within the last moments with some key performs (mentioned under). Lu Dort additionally receives some kudos for bouncing again from an unsightly Three-of-16 efficiency in Recreation 5 to hit 5-of-9 from the sector together with a pair of Three-pointers.
Recreation 7 will probably be performed Wednesday evening at 9 p.m. ET.
Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder
What else did you miss from Recreation 6 between the Rockets and Thunder?
MVP: Chris Paul
Paul was completely impeccable on this one. He had the ball in his palms for 7.eight minutes of precise recreation time and didn’t flip it over as soon as. He completed with 28 factors on 20 photographs and was fully underneath management on the largest possessions for Oklahoma Metropolis’s offense. It wasn’t simply offense both — he pressured each of the essential late-game turnovers by Russell Westbrook.
Strategic benefit: Late-game execution
There may be going to be a whole lot of concentrate on Westbrook’s foibles down the stretch — two turnovers and an airballed jumper within the last 90 seconds. These had been the outcomes of shaky decision-making and execution and it might need been good to see Harden work off the ball with a little bit extra urgency in these moments. However the Rockets didn’t simply give the sport away, the Thunder took it.
Dennis Schroder‘s game-tying layup was only a stunning instance of seeing a possibility and attacking it shortly. The Thunder wish to go after the small ball Rockets on the rim and Schroder paces himself till Steven Adams can catch up and set that essential again display on P.J. Tucker.
On the subsequent play, Paul requires Schroder display so he can get the change and assault Robert Covington off the dribble. He beats Covington slightly simply and forces the reach-in foul for the go-ahead free throws however the Thunder truly had a number of choices right here.
As he rounds Covington, Adams slides in to set a again display on Russell Westbrook (who, for some purpose nonetheless has his palms on his knees). Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is extensive open within the nook for a Three-pointer or to drive in opposition to no matter wild closeout ensues and get himself a straightforward layup. The Thunder had been higher down the stretch however in addition they had flexibility in place so that they didn’t must depend on simply out-talenting their opponents, which appears to have been the Rockets’ plan.
Unsung hero: Danilo Gallinari and his 25 factors
Gallinari was invisible within the Thunder’s Recreation 5 loss, lacking all 5 of his photographs within the 22 minutes he was on the ground. Even within the Thunder wins in Video games Three and four, he totaled 29 factors on 7-of-22 from the sector and 5-of-14 from past the arc. Gallinari is extremely vital to Oklahoma Metropolis’s offense as a result of he’s one of many solely Thunder gamers who can pressure an honest-to-goodness mismatch in opposition to the Rockets.
He’s helpful as a spot-up shooter and he’s nonetheless cell sufficient to assault Houston’s small-ball bigs from the perimeter. However he can also use his measurement benefit to shoot excessive just about any time he needs. Which means he can get his personal shot in isolations, whether or not he’s catching within the publish or backing down from past the arc.
Gallinari’s potential to leverage these mismatches is a stress launch valve for Oklahoma Metropolis’s offense. When it’s working they’re a way more difficult workforce for Houston to defend in opposition to.