Two MVP candidates. Two legendary performances. A classic playoff game. The Thunder's 115-113 victory on Friday night cut the Rockets' series lead to 2-1 and gave hope that the Thunder can compete with Houston. Russell Westbrook's triple-double topped James Harden's 44 and the OKC role players showed up. 


  • The big narrative will be about Westbrook finally getting help from teammates, and he did, and about Harden's attempt at a game-winning 3 instead of going for the tie on the final possession. But this game was more about control. The two teams wrestled back and forth for control of this game, with the Thunder constantly hammering the Rockets to the mat, and every time, the Rockets would get back up and ask, "Is that all you've got?" Westbrook played the controlled game that was missing in Game 2, and his patience and discipline in not settling for 3-pointers, instead trusting his teammates, made this a much better performance. 
  • Taj Gibson had the game the Thunder expected when they traded for him, burning the Rockets when Westbrook got to the rim and dumped it off, and hitting 4 of 4 in the pick-and-pop. Victor Oladipo made shots, Andre Roberson continued to make big shots, and the old adage held true: Role players play better at home. 
  • The Thunder did a much better job of containing Clint Capela in the pick and roll, collapsing on him and with Steven Adams dropping more effectively. 
  • And still, Harden finished with 44 points and six assists on 11-of-21 shooting. He had a great look at the end, but missed. That's all there is to it, he missed a shot he can make. 
  • Harden could have driven to the rim and drawn contact, but the Rockets were short on time. Harden got a look he can make that would have put Houston up 3-0. It was a calculated gamble that didn't pay off. 
  • There will be talk before Game 4 about how despite the Rockets shooting 10-of-35 from 3-point range, committing 13 turnovers (which OKC turned into 25 points) and getting almost nothing from Patrick Beverley and Trevor Ariza, they still had a chance to win the game on the final shot. However, this is how OKC is going to have to win playoff games. They had more crunch-time games than any other team in the regular season and a great record in them, in large part thanks to Westbrook. This is how they win games.
  • The Rockets can feel fine about the loss, knowing they hung in and will likely shoot better. Getting their defense back under wraps will be tougher. 
  • Lou Williams has historically been rough in the playoffs but came through with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting. 
  • Game 3 was the best Westbrook game OKC could have gotten. It was nearly the best Harden game Houston could have gotten. And that little edge was the difference. That's how close these two players are. 
  • Stop me if you've heard this one, but Westbrook had a triple-double (32 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists).
  • The Rockets have a penchant for these cold-shooting nights (10 of 35 from deep) and it opens the door for the Thunder to steal these games. The reality is that these two teams are more evenly matched than it appears on the surface, which is why Houston was never going to sweep them. Houston can still win Game 4 to secure a 3-1 advantage and effectively end this series. But the idea that the Rockets were so far ahead of Houston as to dominate them outright was always a fallacy.
  • If Game 1 was Patrick Beverley's best playoff game, Game 3 was the worst. Beverley fouled out, was a minus-7 and shot 0 of 6 from the field for one point. 
  • This game, like every game in this series, should not impact the MVP race in any way, as it is a regular-season award that has already been voted on.