The love affair between Thunder fans and James Harden evidently is over. Harden was booed from start to finish Sunday night during Game 1 of the playoff series between OKC and Houston at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Actually, the booing came before the start during pregame introductions. On the court, Thunder players were all-business against their former teammate. There was no idle chit-chat, not even eye contact. The official good-bye came with a 120-91 romp in the opening game of this best-of-7 series, which continues with Game 2 on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at The Peake. When Harden turned down a four-year extension believed to be worth roughly $53 million just before the season began, he was traded to Houston on Oct. 27 along with Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round draft picks and a second-round pick. When Harden returned to OKC on Nov. 28, he was booed whenever he made a shot or drew a foul, but he at least was cheered during pregame introductions. He missed his first nine shots, 12 of his first 13, finished 3 for 16 from the field and had six shots blocked by five former teammates. Harden's second visit wasn't much better and came with an all-out accompaniment of boos. The tone was set with 6:59 left in the first quarter when Harden's running 5-footer was authoritatively swatted out of bounds by Serge Ibaka, bringing a roar from the sellout crowd of 18,203. Harden finished with 20 points on 19 shots in 34 minutes. He shot 6 for 19 from the field with one field goal coming on a goaltending call against Ibaka. So thorough was the thrashing, Harden didn't even get off the bench in the fourth quarter because he and his teammates were too far gone. The No. 8-seeded Rockets managed to tie the score twice in the second quarter, but never led the No. 1-seeded Thunder, which led by as many as 35 and set an OKC franchise record for points in a postseason game. In two appearances in his former home arena, Harden is a combined 9 for 35 (.257) from the field and has lost by an average margin of 25.5 points. Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 24 points on 15 shots, and added six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocked shots. Russell Westbrook fell just short of a triple-double with 19 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, while Serge Ibaka had 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
OKC wins Game 1, hammers Houston 120-91
The Oklahoman | Apr 22