Tate scores 32, rallies short-handed Rockets past Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Jae’Sean Tate scored a career-high 32 points and added 10 rebounds, seven assists and five blocked shots, sparking a fourth-quarter rally to lead the short-handed Houston Rockets to a 114-110 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
The Rockets won their fourth straight and the Thunder dropped their seventh in a row. It was also Houston’s first road win of the season.
Tate stepped up at a point when the Rockets were missing their top two scorers.
“He did it on both ends of the floor,” said Rockets coach Stephen Silas. “He was attacking on the offensive end, getting rebounds, finishing in the paint. But then on the defensive end, he was switching onto guys and he ended up with five blocks, which is amazing. Down the stretch, he was the guy that we were going to.”
Oklahoma City led 81-73 at the end of three quarters before Houston started chipping away behind Tate and Armoni Brooks, who had 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
After Tate’s bucket gave the Rockets a 111-108 lead with 26 seconds left, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had his potential game-tying 3-pointer rim out and the Rockets closed the game at the free throw line.
“We lost some of our primary guys tonight and not only me but everybody stepped up,” Tate said. “It was just one of those nights when I had it going, Coach kept feeding me the ball in my spots and just our will and our fight to get back in it. We needed that. Our first road win and it wasn’t an easy one.”
Gilgeous-Alexander had a career-high 39 points but was only 1 of 8 beyond the arc.
Kevin Porter scored 10 first-quarter points but the Thunder led 26-24. Oklahoma City took a 15-point lead on two occasions in the second period before grabbing a 58-50 advantage at the half.
Houston played without two starters in the second half, as Porter bruised his thigh and Christian Wood sprained an ankle early in the first quarter. Wood tried to return briefly in the second quarter but was scratched for the rest of the game at halftime.
The Rockets outscored the Thunder 41-29 in the fourth quarter without them.
“To have two main guys go down and have everybody come together and rally as a group really says a lot about the personalities we have, tells a lot about the culture we’re trying to establish here,” Silas said. “We’ve had some struggles this year and this is a good moment for our group.”
Thunder: Point guard Josh Giddey missed the game with a non-COVID-19 illness and was replaced by another rookie, Tre Mann, in the starting lineup. All four Thunder first-year players have now started a game this season.
Rockets: Wood had a career-high 24 points and 21 rebounds in Monday’s win over the Thunder in Houston but failed to score or record a rebound Wednesday, playing just nine minutes.
Rockets: Host Orlando on Friday
Thunder: At Memphis on Thursday