Wood helps Rockets beat Thunder 124-91 in home opener
HOUSTON – Christian Wood had 31 points and 14 rebounds and Houston beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 124-91 on Friday night in the Rockets’ home opener.
Oklahoma City had few responses for Wood, who went 13 for 19 from the field, including 4 of 6 from the 3-point line. Fourth in the Most Improved Player vote last season, he also blocked three shots and stole one.
“We didn’t really like the way we started the first game, so we focused on a good start, and we felt like we did today,” said Wood. “I knew I had to come out with energy, and I had to bring it. Before the game, everyone was excited, and that’s what you like to see.”
The Rockets looked much better than they did in their 124-106 season opener loss to Minnesota on Wednesday night.
“I think we learned from the last game about the preparation we need, the energy early on and how we have to play together,” said Rockets coach Stephen Silas. “We didn’t like the way we played in Game 1, and we rectified it, which hopefully is a sign of things to come to overcome adversity, learn from it and do better.”
Silas said he called fewer games on Friday night than he did in Game 1 and was happy with the results.
Kevin Porter Jr. had 18 points and nine assists. Veteran shooter Eric Gordon scored 22 points on 4 of 6 of 3 shots, and Jae’Sean Tate had 16 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.
“The first game there was a lot of nervousness with us being a new group,” Porter said. “We just wanted to turn the tide. It’s not about having one bad game. There are 82. It’s your way of reacting. We reacted very well tonight.”
Second pick in the draft, Jalen Green had nine points in his home debut. Porter called Green his “little brother” and spoke of their mutual respect. Alperen Sengun, the 16th overall pick, had six points and four rebounds off the bench. Including Green, Sengun and other first-round picks Josh Christopher and Usman Garuba, the Rockets faced four 19-year-olds.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Mike Muscala led Oklahoma City with 13 points apiece, and Kenrich Williams scored 12 points off the bench. Oklahoma City shot just 37 percent from the field and made 9 of 16 free throws.
“Houston came out very aggressive with a great pace,” said Thunder coach Mark Daigneault. “That’s to their credit. You have to use the physique and the team mentality.”
Houston topped Oklahoma City in the paint, beating the Thunder 58-34 and winning the rebound battle 53-40.
The Rockets quickly took a double-digit lead and were leading 33-21 at the end of the first quarter and 69-47 at halftime.
The Thunder fell to 0-2 after losing their first game to Utah on Wednesday night.
Thunder: Oklahoma City gave the Rockets 21 second chance points and only scored 11 second chance points. … Luguentz Dort collected eight points on 3 of 9 shots in 27 minutes.
Rockets: Danuel House Jr. made his season debut after missing the opener for some unspecified personal reason. House had two points and three rebounds in 11 minutes on the bench.
“TURN ON THE FUSE”
Houston rappers Paul Wall, Bun B and Slim Thug performed their new song “Light The Fuse” as halftime entertainment. The song, which debuted earlier this month, was recorded for the Rockets and references several players on the team, including Christian Wood, Jalen Green, Jae’Sean Tate and others.
THE DREAM COMES THROUGH
Rockets Hall of Fame member Hakeem Olajuwon attempted the ceremonial ‘First Shot’ free throw before kicking off, forcing him to secure a $ 5,000 donation from the Rockets to the Clutch City Foundation .
Former Rockets player and Houston native Gerald Green announced his retirement from the NBA on Friday. 2007 NBA Slam Dunk contest winner Green, 35, last played for Houston in the 2018-19 season. He averaged 9.7 points in 658 games. He will join the Rockets coaching team as a player development coach.
HE SAID IT
“I didn’t see the climax, but whoa… whoa… that was crazy.” – Silas on a high-flying miss dunk by Jalen Green where his head was over the edge.
Thunder: Philadelphia host Sunday.
Rockets: Host Boston Sunday.