The Thunder faced off against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night for the first time since General Manager Sam Presti engineered a trade that sent James Harden and three other players to Houston. The Thunder showed that they seem to be doing alright without their former Sixth Man of the Year in front of a sellout crowd as they defeated the Rockets, 120-98.
Harden has been having a dynamic season in his new role as a starter with his new team, but for some reason he did not shine as bright in his return to Oklahoma City. Harden went 3-16 from the floor, scoring only 17 points, well below his season average of 24.5 points per game. Daequan Cook, another former member of the Thunder who started for the Rockets Wednesday night, scored 18 points.
The Rockets did not fare much better on the other side of the ball either. Commissioned to guard Kevin Durant, Harden and Cook allowed the three-time scoring champ to shoot 59 percent from the floor and put up 37 points. Serge Ibaka added 23 points, and Kevin Martin, who fills Harden’s former role coming off the bench, equaled his predecessor’s stat line in points, assists and steals in about 12 minutes less time.
With the win, the Thunder improve to 12-4 on the season, while the Rockets drop below .500 at 7-8. Next up for the Thunder, they will take on the Utah Jazz (9-7), who currently occupy second place in the Northwest Division three games behind OKC, at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Friday night at 7:00 p.m.