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Harden has 37 points, Rockets rout Thunder, Westbrook 118-87

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NBA MVP Harden Westbrook Le Bron Kawhi Efficient

Buoyed by the all-around tenacity of guard Patrick Beverley plus a surprisingly overwhelming advantage on the glass and in the paint, the Rockets blitzed the Oklahoma City Thunder 118-87 in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series at Toyota Center. Harden would finish with 37 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and three steals, all with Roberson's talented defense hounding him for much of the contest. They've learned that even on a down shooting night, they can trust their centers to get them quality baskets down low, and they've seen Beverley's ability to frustrate the Thunder's main weapon. He guarded Westbrook on 11 of those, and Russ scored just eight points on three makes in those 11 possessions. It was the start of the Russell Westbrook era, and the all-star guard did not disappoint.

Hopefully, the Thunder can collect themselves and come back to game 2 stronger and more efficient, because if not they are in some deep trouble.

Dwyane Wade once told me in an interview that the best thing a defender can do is take you out of your game.

HOUSTON (AP) - When J.J. Watt attended the Houston Rockets' playoff game on Sunday night, he got a front-row view of Patrick Beverley's intensity. Beverley also shut down Westbrook defensively when it mattered the most.

Al Horford acknowledged afterward that emotions were tough for not just Thomas, but the entire team.

The Thunder came into the night the superior rebounding team, but they grabbed just 42 percent of available rebounds.

In the regular season, Harden led the Rockets to 55 wins and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, who are now playing the Thunder, the No. 6 seed in the West, notching just 47 wins on the year.

"He just has a way of getting you fired up", Watt said.

But it was Beverley who turned the lights out on Oklahoma City. And he made sure the crowd knew what he'd just done: Turning around to the fans on the right sideline, peering into the distance and moving his arms as if he were impersonating some kind of cheap, '80s robot, screaming consistent incoherence all the way.

"Hopefully Harden can put Westbrook in his place and we'll keep moving on or not thinking about them", said May. At the end of the night, he just stood on the court seemingly standing and waiting for something more to happen. "You have to get the next one", Gibson added. We kept preaching to them, we're not going to shoot the ball well all the time, so we got to find other ways to win.

It was a disaster for Westbrook, and his teammates followed with him. For the Thunder, their bread and butter all season has been in the rebounding department - they pulled down 46.6 of them per game, good for first in the National Basketball Association - but in Game 1, they were roasted 56-41 on that front.

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, a co-favorite with Harden for league MVP honors, tallied 22 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and nine turnovers. Oladipo shot 1-for-12 from the field for six points while missing all four of his shots from behind the arc. While the Rockets seemed more well-equipped, whoever the victor winds up playing in the second round certainly won't be thrilled about the matchup.

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