Gut punch

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets fall to Thunder in Oklahoma City 113-92

This is one of those games you try to forget about quickly otherwise it'll eat you alive. The Rockets, on a second half of a road back-to-back, looked absolutely gassed and lethargic against a really good Oklahoma City Thunder team. Defensively, they were lethargic (114.8 defensive rating), allowing 37 points in the first quarter alone. Offensively, they couldn't hit a shot if it was gifted to them on a silver platter (34 for 89 from the field, 11-40 from distance).

This was a bad loss and there's no excusing it. Yes, the Rockets were tired, but it shouldn't be overlooked that the Thunder had also played 4 games in 6 nights.

James Harden's struggles from the field carried over from the Hawks game into tonight as he only scored 17 points on 5 of 17 shooting from the field and 2 of 9 shooting from three-point range. Harden's only made seven field goals in his last six quarters of basketball. He'll likely bounce back Saturday against the Timberwolves, but he was no help for Houston tonight.

Clint Capela also had a rough night, logging only 8 points, 11 rebounds, and 1 block on 3 of 8 shooting from the field. Head coach Mike D'Antoni revealed after the game that Capela is still dealing with a heel issue and may possibly miss Saturday's game in Houston.

In this end, this game did manage to provide a touching tribute to Russell Westbrook as Thunder fans greeted him with applause and 'MVP' chants every chance they could. Westbrook stated after the game how much it meant for him to return and the emotions he felt returning to his former team.

Star of the game: Fittingly, Russell Westbrook was the only Rocket who played well tonight, logging 34 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds, on 14 of 26 shooting from the field and 5 of 6 shooting from the free throw line. It was obviously an emotional night for Westbrook, but he handled himself well buzzer to buzzer and tried to keep Houston within striking distance.

Honorable mention: This was tough. I suppose Chris Clemons (14 points in 12 minutes of garbage time on 5-9 shooting from the field and 3 of 6 shooting from deep) was the least bad of the non-Westbrook group? The bottom line is nobody had a particularly positive impact outside of Westbrook tonight. On the second half of a road back-to-back, the Rockets were gassed and it showed.

Key moment: The game was essentially over after the first quarter. The Thunder took a strong 37-21 lead and the Rockets never recovered. Oklahoma City shot 56.0% (14 of 25) from the field and 60.0% (6 of 10) from three-point range and Houston didn't have any energy to defend or hit jumpers. The Rockets shot 38.1% (8 for 21) from the field and 27.3% (3 for 11) from three-point range and the tone was set for the rest of the night.

Up next: The Rockets return to Houston to play the Minnesota Timberwolves at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.

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Photos by Getty Images. Composite image by Jack Brame.

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