NBA Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets Preview

Photo: James Harden
Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America

Preview: Thunder at Rockets

The Houston Rockets look to record their seventh victory in the past eight games when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Christmas Day. The Rockets can move a season-best three games over .500 with a win against the Thunder, who own the third-best record in the Western Conference.

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Reigning MVP James Harden had 39 points and 10 assists in Saturday’s 108-101 home triumph over the San Antonio Spurs and is averaging 39.7 points while topping 30 in six straight games. “That’s what we do, we do it at a high level,” Harden told reporters after the victory. “We shoot the ball, we shoot it with confidence. Some are going to go in, some aren’t. That’s the way we play.” Oklahoma City had a four-game winning streak halted as it fell 114-112 to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. Thunder star forward Paul George registered 31 points and 11 rebounds against Minnesota for his fifth 30-point effort in six games and he is averaging 34.3 points during the stretch.

TV: 3 p.m. ET, ABC

ABOUT THE THUNDER (21-11): Point guard Russell Westbrook recorded triple-doubles in three of the past four games after contributing 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against the Timberwolves. Westbrook has nine triple-doubles this season and 113 in his career but had failed to reach the 20-point mark in five straight games before a 10-of-19 shooting performance against Minnesota. Westbrook averaged 29 points and 9.3 assists in three games against the Rockets in 2017-18 but missed this season’s first matchup due to an ankle injury.

ABOUT THE ROCKETS (17-15): Center Clint Capela had 21 points and a season-best 23 rebounds in the win over San Antonio for his third 20-point outing in the past five games. The 24-year-old has 22 double-doubles this season and his second 20-rebound effort of the campaign impressed shooting guard Eric Gordon. “He’s young and athletic, so that really helps, but he’s one of the best rebounders in the league,” Gordon told reporters. “We need him to continue to do that. With all these long shots and him being around the rim all the time, we definitely need him to be our rim protector and get a lot of rebounds. We need him to be big like that all the time.”

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Thunder limited Harden to 19 points while posting a 98-80 home win on Nov. 8.

2. Houston signed G Austin Rivers to help provide backcourt depth with PG Chris Paul (hamstring) sidelined for two to four weeks.

3. Oklahoma City C Steven Adams collected just four rebounds against Minnesota after averaging 16.5 over the previous two contests.

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