By Professor Fred Whitted NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — The title above...
The Rockets and Harden Shine Down The Stretch In MVP Showdown
The Thunder and Rockets came into this Easter Sunday showdown knowing that it was all about Westbrook vs Harden. Every fan in the Chesapeake Energy Arena wanted to see the battle of the MVP candidates and thats what they got. The Rockets were clearly in control of the game and in the beginning Dwight Howard was playing like a man among boys in the paint. The Rockets were getting into the Lob City swing of things like the Clippers do as Howard caught a couple of Oops. Howard was dominating any big man they put on him as McGary, Adams, and Kanter were all in foul trouble. Dwight Howard had 22 points and 8 rebounds in the game and started the good play of the Rockets off.
Kanter had 21 points and 17 rebounds and was trying to establish the paint and seemed to do so as Howard was out. A lot of the Thunder’s inside buckets were when the Rockets had Dorsey in the game and not Howard. Russell Westbrook started out the gate very slow in this contest and was woken up by Joey Dorsey pushing him while a play was over both got hit with technical fouls. Russell Westbrook had got it going and finished the game with his 11th triple double. Westbrook had 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds and was going back and forth with James Harden. Westbrook is the type of player that wants to be able to compete every single possession and he is going to need the help of Morrow and Waiters down the stretch.
Morrow has been very good as of late and has had the hot hand as he dropped 22 points in the game today. Morrow was hitting his jumpers early as Waiters was struggling the second half. Westbrook and the Thunder were fighting to stay in the game and did just that all day against the Rockets but Harden was too much. Harden finished the game with 41 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. Harden hit every big jumper that he needed to hit against the Thunder in pressure moments. The big factor to James Harden success was the mismatches that he had in the game he was guarded by Kyle Singler and Steve Novak. When you have to switch on the picks it was killing the Thunder because Harden was shaking and baking and hitting jumpers.
The Thunder fall to 42-35 and have lost 5 of the last 6 games and will have to try to regroup as they have the Spurs coming into town on Tuesday. The Thunder are a half game up on the New Orleans Pelicans and have to get things together so they can make the playoffs. The Pelicans are getting hot at the right time and the Thunder have been going the opposite way.