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Nene Carries Houston Rockets to 3-1 Lead

Apr 23, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Houston Rockets center Nene Hilario (42) react after a play against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Houston Rockets center Nene Hilario (42) react after a play against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
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In an ugly game from start to finish, the Houston Rockets were able to secure a 3-1 lead over the Thunder behind one of Nene’s best games of his career.

After the Houston Rockets lost game three to the Oklahoma City Thunder, many predicted they’d come out on fire in game four. Sadly, that didn’t happen. Instead, they allowed Russell Westbrook to lead his team to an 11-point first quarter lead, tallying a triple-double by halftime.

Things got even worse after the break, with Houston missing shots from all over the floor. OKC’s lead stretched to 14 at one points before the Rockets began to wake up. Eventually, after lots of mistakes from both teams, Mike D’Antoni‘s crew came out victorious.

113. 169. 109. 149.

In most game recaps, this is the part where I go on to mention how James Harden was the best player on the court, valiantly leading his team to the finish line. However, that was not the case this time. In unpredictable fashion, Nene played arguably the best game of his career, with 28 points and 10 rebounds on a perfect 12/12 shooting. In a game decided by four points, he was a +24 in the box score.

Harden, on the other hand, only managed to score 16 points along with eight assists, shooting inefficiently along the way. He did score half of those points in the fourth quarter, but he’s been much better in the past.

Other notable contributors for the Rockets were, again, Lou Williams and Eric Gordon. They each scored 18 points off the bench, each shooting 5/13 from the field. Trevor Ariza also hit his first threes of the series, hitting three of his five attempts en route to 14 points.

Of course, Russell Westrook led his team in nearly every statistical category. The Brodie put up a ridiculous 35 points, 14 assists, and 14 rebounds, along with three steals. He shot just over 35% from the field, but his volume allowed him to light up the scoreboard.

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The most influential player for OKC on the game, though, was Andre Roberson. On one hand, he played some of the best defense of the playoffs thus far. He recorded a ridiculous five blocks and two steals, and helped contain Harden for the majority of the game.

On the other hand, he shot 2/12 from the free throw line, essentially costing his team the game. The Rockets went for the Hack-a-Shaq strategy in the fourth quarter, forcing Roberson to hit his free throws, and he failed. That allowed Houston to get back into the game, and they took the momentum and ran with it.

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The Houston Rockets now have a chance to close the series out in game five, which will tip off at 7:00 CT on Tuesday evening. Winning the series on their own home court would be nice for the fans, and would give them plenty of rest before the second round.

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