Houston pulls away with 15-0 fourth quarter run, beat OKC to take 2-0 series lead

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Houston is defending very well. Houston, as a team, has bought into the system. Houston is having fun in the bubble. Houston is doing all of this without their eight-time All-Star and second-best player on the court.

Houston is now up 2-0 on OKC and is in total control of its series.

The Rockets used a 15-0 fourth-quarter run to turn a back-and-forth game into a comfortable finish, winning 111-98.

James Harden had 21 points to lead a balanced Rockets’ attack with seven players scoring in double figures.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander impressed and had 31 for the Thunder.

What has impressed about Houston so far in the bubble has been its effort, commitment to the system, and success on the defensive end. The Rockets were sixth in defense through the seeding games, and have held the Thunder to a 106.7 offensive rating through two games (3.1 points below their season average). It’s not elite, but it works.

While the rest of the NBA world rolled its eyes at the Rockets’ micro-ball system, the team itself fully bought in — you can see it in the way they play. There is a commitment on both ends that Lakers’ and Clippers’ fans are dreaming of at this point. It’s all drive-and-kick-and-threes but the Rockets are making the extra pass, finding the open man, and trusting that if they need a bucket or two Harden can get it for them.

How far will that take the Rockets in restart remains to be seen, but so far they have looked as good as any team in the West.

Or, just ask OKC how good Houston is.