Thunder rally in second half to win in Houston


Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored a game-high 36 points while Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren combined for 51 as the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder rallied from a 16-point, first-half deficit to defeat the Houston Rockets 123-110 on Sunday.

Gilgeous-Alexander added five rebounds and seven assists to his ledger while Williams scored 22 points. Holmgren tallied 29 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three blocks, and his surge to open the fourth quarter enabled the Thunder to establish a comfortable lead.

Holmgren scored nine points during a 12-2 run that opened the final period, posting a pair of dunks and a 3-pointer that lifted the Thunder to a 99-85 lead. The Rockets never recovered.

Jabari Smith Jr. and Fred VanVleet scored 20 points apiece for the Rockets, with Smith grabbing a game-high 17 rebounds. Alperen Sengun paired 19 points with 12 rebounds for Houston, which committed 18 turnovers that Oklahoma City converted into 23 points.

Luguentz Dort (16 points) provided the initial spark for the Thunder with 11 of their opening 15 points. But when VanVleet nailed a transition 3 at the 4:29 mark of the first period, the Rockets took a 24-20 lead. Houston maintained the advantage entering the second in part by making 8 of 15 3-pointers, surviving an opening frame that featured 13 lead changes and six ties.

When Gilgeous-Alexander rested early in the second, the Rockets took advantage with a 14-4 run to grab a 48-35 lead. Their bench was responsible for the offensive thrust, with Aaron Holiday scoring seven points during the surge while Cam Whitmore and Amen Thompson totaled seven. The Rockets extended to a 56-40 lead at the five-minute mark on a Thompson three-point play while Gilgeous-Alexander sat, but when the latter returned, the Thunder fashioned an immediate rally.

Oklahoma City closed the half with a 13-3 push, keyed by Williams’ six points and four from Holmgren. Gilgeous-Alexander added a three-point play, and the Rockets led 62-57 at the half.