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April 22, 2013

NBA PLAYOFFS: Thunder coast past Rockets in Game 1

OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin McHale tried to warn his team. The veteran of many playoff wars knew what was in store for his team in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

When McHale tried to explain to his youthful Rockets what going through the playoffs was going to be like, he gave up, knowing it was something they would have to learn about first-hand.

What the Rockets learned was that the Thunder know how to raise their game in the postseason and they will have to do the same if they want to make it a series. Oklahoma City rolled to a 120-91 Game 1 victory at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

"Believe it or not, I think this was good for us," Houston's James Harden said. "It was definitely good for us. Now we know how to play. It's a lot of guys first time here to be in the playoffs. They were kind of shell shocked."

With Harden making his return to Oklahoma City, the Thunder didn't allow him to create any late-game drama. They did exactly what good teams do by putting their feet on the Rockets' throat and not letting up.

"We did a good job of sticking to our game plan," Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook said. "We did a good job as a team of just sticking to it. Whatever our coaches asked us to do, I think we did a good job of doing that for 48 minutes."

Thunder forward Kevin Durant shot 7-for-15 from the field for a game-high 24 points. Point guard Russell Westbrook finished two rebounds away from a triple double. He collected 19 points, 10 assists and eight boards. Serge Ibaka added 17 points, seven boards and three blocks.

Harden paced the Rockets with 20 points on 6-for 19 shooting and was only 1-for-6 from behind the arc. The frontline of Greg Smith, Chandler Parsons and Omar Asik were held to a combined 24 points and 13 rebounds.

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