In a span of about two and a half hours, the Houston Rockets made an unexpected trade, while also knocking off defending western conference champions, Oklahoma City.
Coming off his first all-star appearance, James Harden scored a career high 46 points against his former team, while grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists in leading the Rockets to their first win against the Thunder this season. Jeremy Lin also added 29 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds while Chandler Parsons scored 17 points.
The game looked out of reach as the Thunder were up by 14 points with about seven minutes left in the game, but Houston, led by Harden, went on a 21-4 run to tie the game, and eventually went up 114-111 with 1:46 left when Lin sank a 3.
“I just told the guys on the court that we’ve got to do whatever it takes, we’ve got to get some stops together and make some shots,” Harden said. “It’s not going to be easy, they’re a very good team. But we got some stops at the right time and guys made good shots.”
Oklahoma City, who had won the previous match up in Houston by 30, were led by Kevin Durant, who recorded his first triple double with 15 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds. Thabo Sefolosha scored a career high 28 points, including six 3-pointers, and Russell Westbrook added 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists.
The story of the game, however, belongs to Harden. He scored 19 points in the fourth quarter; including a step back 3 on Serge Ibaka to tie to game at 111 with two minutes left.
“If he is not up for MVP consideration, I don’t know what else he needs to do,” Lin said. “He made every single big play down the stretch, and even the shots that I was able to have, they were created because of him.”
The Rockets were also shorthanded as they made a trade just moments before the game was set to tip off. Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, Toney Douglas, and Cole Aldrich, were all listed as inactive prior to the start time. It was reported later that the Rockets were a part of a three team deal in which they sent Patterson, Douglas, and Aldrich to the Sacramento Kings for rookie forward Thomas Robinson, swingman Francisco Garcia, and forward Tyler Honeycutt, while trading Morris to the Phoenix Suns for a second round draft pick.
Robinson was the number 5 draft pick overall in last summer’s draft, and is averaging 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 15.9 minutes. Garcia, at 32 years old will now be the oldest Rocket on the roster, is averaging 5.2 points in 17.8 minutes, while Honeycutt is a second year player from UCLA who has played sparingly.
More information will soon come out about when the three will join and be officially introduced. Morris will also be united with his twin brother and college teammate Markieff in Phoenix.