The Oklahoma City Thunder had an opportunity to seal a first round series victory over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, but coach Scott Brooks’ tactic of sending Omer Asik to the foul line proved to be a disastrous one.
Asik proved his worth for the Rockets in his side’s second consecutive win as Houston fights its way back into what was originally considered a lost series after the eighth-seed Rockets lost the opening three games.
Asik’s 21 points and 11 rebounds were huge in the 107-100 win in enemy territory and his performance marked another consistent effort in what has been a fantastic playoff series for the Turkish star.
Now averaging 12 points and close to 11 rebounds in the postseason, Asik anchored the Rockets defense and knocked down nine of 14 free throw attempts when Brooks sent his players out to put the big man on the foul line with six minutes remaining in the game.
“He hit his free throws,” Brooks said in a televised post-game interview. “He stepped up. Give him credit, he stepped up and made shots, made his free throws. That’s a strategy we don’t use often. We used it once last year against the Spurs.”
James Harden commended his teammate post match.
“[Asik] works on [shooting free throws] every single day,” Harden told Sports Illustrated. “We didn’t even know this was going to happen. he was ready, He made most of them and that’s all that matters.”
The offseason acquisition is having a breakout year and joins James Harden and Chandler Parsons as other young Rockets to have breakout performances in this year’s playoffs, proving that the Rockets have a very intimidating core for the next few years.
Robert White covers the Houston Rockets for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr.