Nov 16, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) shoots the ball over Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
James Harden and the Rockets face Westbrook and the Thunder
Two MVP front runners face off again as James Harden and the Houston Rockets are looking to avenge their previous loss. The difference this time is Patrick Beverley is back and I’m sure Thunder fans are thrilled. Houston has gone 9-2 since Bev’s return and winners of the last four.
Bev is likely licking his chops to guard the triple double machine, Westbrook, and will have his hands full as OKC has won six straight. During this run, Westbrook has had six consecutive triple doubles and joins a very elite company who have previously done this.
In the last outing, James Harden struggled with his shot against the tenacious defense of Andre Roberson. And yet, even with their shot not falling, the Rockets had their fair chances to steal the game. Some sloppy turnovers and miscues led to a nasty left handed dunk from Westbrook over Capela, that sealed their victory.
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For Houston to be successful this time around, the team has got to cut down on turnovers, continue to push the tempo, and get Eric Gordon the ball. Gordon is coming off a career high eight 3’s on Wednesday and now has an active streak of at least four made 3’s in seven consecutive games. The Rockets will need his hot shooting to get the victory in Oklahoma.
Both Harden and Westbrook are out to prove themselves this year and in the process, validate their team. The Rockets struggles from last season are well documented. OKC on the other hand, rode their superstars all the way to the post season. They actually came within one game of eliminating the Warriors, but with Durant leaving, the question is now how far can Westbrook take them?
The Rockets currently rank second in scoring and fifth in 3-point percentage. Can they shake off their previous loss against this team and end Westbrook and the Thunder’s streak?