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Houston Rockets Get Narrow Win Over Thunder In MVP Duel

Jan 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) splits the defense of Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) and guard Russell Westbrook (0) in the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) splits the defense of Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) and guard Russell Westbrook (0) in the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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The Houston Rockets got their sixth straight win, as they held off the Thunder’s late comeback attempt in the victory.

118. 169. 116. 149.

The Houston Rockets won a nail-biting victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday night at the Toyota Center. Following their second half rally to give them a win over the Washington Wizards, the Rockets have now extended their winning streak to six.

Despite coming away with the victory the game did not start out too well for the Rockets. The Thunder came out firing on all cylinders to gain an early advantage in Houston. Led by their MVP Russell Westbrook with 15 first quarter points, the Thunder took a 38-33 lead after the first quarter.

Despite shooting under 40 percent by the starters, Houston’s second unit came out took advantage of a relaxed Oklahoma City team. With 10 points coming from Eric Gordon, the Rockets outscored Oklahoma City 34-18 in the second and took a 67-56 lead heading into the break.

However, what started as an MVP duel between James Harden and Westbrook, turned into the Rockets vs Westbrook in the third. Despite 19 first half points by The Beard, his teammates stepped up and helped Houston take a 97-83 lead into the fourth.

The Rockets held a 14-point lead early the fourth quarter before their offense stalled, and the Thunder went on a 20-7 run to cut the lead to 107-104 with about 5-1/2 minutes left. Westbrook was on the bench for most of that time and Victor Oladipo scored five points during that run. Westbrook eventually returned and capped it with four straight points.

The result of outscoring Houston 33-21 in the fourth gave the Thunder their first lead of the game late in the final minutes.

With the game tied at 116 apiece, a late foul called on Jerami Grant put Nene on the line with 0.7 seconds left in the game. On a night where Nene scored a season-high 18 points for his 12th double-digit game this season, his pair of free throws was enough to give Houston the narrow victory.

Players of the Game

A. As expected, James Harden had a phenomenal performance. Arguably one of his best all-around performances of the season so far. Despite getting off to a hot start with 19 first half points, Harden’s second half was a little rocky. However, what he lacked in scoring, he stepped up in other aspects of the game. Another great game for the league’s MVP. 26 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds.. PG. Houston Rockets. JAMES HARDEN

PG. Oklahoma City Thunder. RUSSELL WESTBROOK. A+. Whether you like him or hate him, one must feel bad for Russell Westbrook. He did all he could to steal a victory over the Rockets. But his individual performance was not enough. His 49 points were the most a player has scored against Houston since current Rocket Corey Brewer had 51 for Minnesota on April 11, 2014. It was the third-most points Westbrook, whose career high is 54, has ever scored. 49 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists.

Following the win, the Houston Rockets will look to expand their winning streak Friday against the Orlando Magic in Orlando.

Next: 3 on 3: Three Questions About the Houston Rockets

Enjoy the season Red Nation and be sure to stay connected with Space City Scoop as our team of writers keep you on top of all things Houston Rockets.

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