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OKC Thunder: Five takeaways from the Thunder's Game 3 win against the Rockets

The Thunder outlasted the Rockets in overtime of Game 3. 

Oklahoma City narrowed Houston’s series lead to 2-1 with a 119-107 win Saturday night. 

Here are five takeaways: 

Desperation time

Billy Donovan turned to his best lineup to start the fourth quarter: Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroder, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams. 

Donovan alternated minutes between Luguentz Dort and Gallinari late in the game to trade offense for defense depending on the situation. 

With 24.4 seconds left, Paul fouled James Harden as the two got tangled on a Rockets inbounds pass as Houston led 102-101. 

Because the foul was before the pass, Harden was awarded a free throw to put the Rockets ahead 103-101. 

Houston threw the ball away on the ensuing inbounds pass and the play was reviewed. 

The Thunder took over down by two points and Paul found Gilgeous-Alexander for a corner 3-pointer which put the Thunder ahead 104-103 with 13.1 seconds left. 

Nerlens Noel fouled Danuel House Jr. with 9.5 seconds left. House made the first free throw and missed the second. 

Houston and Oklahoma City headed to overtime tied 104-104 after Paul missed a tough reverse layup at the buzzer. 

Harden fouled out one minute into overtime, and the Thunder dominated in the extra period thanks to clutch 3-pointers from Paul. 

Guards step up

The Thunder started Game 3 the same way it ended Game 2 — with dreadful offense. 

OKC opened the game 2-of-14 from the field, but 13 free throw attempts saved the Thunder from a disastrous first quarter. 

Then the Thunder’s trio of star guards stepped up. 

Paul, Gilgeous-Alexander and Schroder pushed the pace offensively, which Donovan has been stressing for the last week. 

OKC’s offense still didn’t look smooth against Houston’s switch-everything defense, but Paul, Gilgeous-Alexander and Schroder individually manufactured points their own way. 

All three guards scored at least 23 points. 

Dort shines defensively 

Harden missed his first seven 3-point attempts Saturday night as Dort continued to hound the Rockets star. 

Harden shot 3-of-14 with Dort defending him. 

Harden of course found ways to score — 38 points on 27 shots — but Harden tallied most of his points when Dort wasn’t defending him. 

Dort had a clutch defensive play midway through the fourth quarter as he stopped Harden’s drive to the rim. The Thunder was awarded the ball after it bounced off Harden.

Dort clapped his hands, giving himself a well-deserved ovation. 

Dort, even after missing Game 1 with a right knee sprain, has been the Thunder’s most valuable player defensively. 

On the flip side, the Rockets are daring him to shoot. Dort took them up on that dare, but he missed all six of his 3-point attempts.

Tightened rotation

Donovan has slowly tightened his rotation game by game. 

It was down to eight players Saturday night. 

Hamidou Diallo, Terrance Ferguson, Abdel Nader, Mike Muscala and Andre Roberson remained on the bench the whole game. Darius Bazley and Nerlens Noel, OKC’s seventh and eighth men, both played fewer than 15 minutes. 

Green turns back clock

Jeff Green continued to haunt his old team. 

Green hit a go-ahead 3-pointer to give the Rockets a 95-93 advantage. 

He later powered home a dunk to give the Rockets a 99-94 lead. 

The Rockets forward, who primarily plays backup center behind P.J. Tucker, scored 22 points off the bench. 

Related Photos
Aug 22, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Chris Paul #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder attempts a hook shot in the final second of regulation against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter in game three of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 22, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Chris Paul #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder attempts a hook shot in the final second of regulation against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter in game three of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit:...

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-29fb60e5473f3f7044bd02e4df09a22d.jpg" alt="Photo - Aug 22, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Chris Paul #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder attempts a hook shot in the final second of regulation against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter in game three of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports" title="Aug 22, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Chris Paul #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder attempts a hook shot in the final second of regulation against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter in game three of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports"><figcaption>Aug 22, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Chris Paul #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder attempts a hook shot in the final second of regulation against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter in game three of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports</figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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