As the Rockets inevitably hoisted a barrage of threes and eclipsed OKC toward the end of the game, an increasingly desperate and drained Westbrook continued to step into increasingly more outlandish shots.
Russell Westbrook put up gaudy numbers on Wednesday night.
But he shot just 4 for 18 in the fourth quarter and the Rockets clawed back from a double-digit deficit.
Speaking of clutch time (defined as a five-point game inside five minutes), Westbrook leads the league in points per 100 possessions (74.3), shooting 44.6 percent from the field and OKC is a plus-21.7 per 100 possessions with him on the court in such situations. The Rockets also got 15 points from guard Patrick Beverley, who provided some late heroics as Houston went on a 10-0 run to take a 114-104 lead with 1:22 remaining. For all the bloated excess of his fourth quarter meltdown, he still finished at +11, while every single Thunder bench player had a negative plus-minus.
"You'll never have a flawless game", Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said.More news: The latest from the Shanghai auto show
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook at the end of the loss.
This was a much different game than the series opener, when Houston routed the Thunder 118-87. The Thunder had missed seven straight shots when Westbrook got them back on track with a layup with about eight minutes left. He recorded 42 of them while averaging 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per contest, earning the praise of everyone from Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson to current National Basketball Association players.
No other OKC player scored more than 12 points.
The score could have been much worse if Houston were more efficient with their threes. Oklahoma City made just 7 of 30 3-pointers.
Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Dennis Schroder scored 23 points. Harden finished with 35 points and eight assists and was 18 for 18 from the free-throw line before missing a pair with 1.7 seconds left. "Obviously, Nene and Clint (Capela) and Obviously James going to the basket, they did a great job last game by taking advantage of that, taking advantage of those opportunities, and if they want to focus a little bit more on stopping us in the paint, it's just going to open up our shooting". The series shifts to Atlanta for Game 3 on Saturday.