'Next question!' Russell Westbrook in heated confrontation with journo defending Steven Adams

Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) drives to the basket against OKC Thunder forward Doug McDermott (25) during the second quarter in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

But it was not enough as the Rockets produced a clutch fourth quarter (won 40-32), exposed the free-throw shooting deficiencies of Thunder stopper Andre Roberson and rode home 113-109 on the back of a "perfect" 28-point, 10-rebound game from backup centre Nene who feasted on a succession of easy looks inside.

During Sunday's postgame news conference, when the Oklahoman's Berry Tramel attempted to ask Steven Adams about the Thunder's drop-offs in execution and productivity when Russell Westbrook is on the bench, Westbrook interrupted. If you can't necessarily match a team's talent, then one way to keep up with them is to launch a ton of 3s and hope that majority go in. We in this together. Don't try to split us up. "We play as a team and that's it".

"Don't try to make it Russell and the rest of guys; Russell against Houston". If I go to the bench and Steven's on the floor and I'm off the floor, we're in this together. "I asked Steven a question and he hasn't said anything". He hasn't said anything. "If he says he doesn't want to answer that, then fine".

Regardless, Westbrook doesn't want the blame for this loss to fall elsewhere. For some, stepping in front of Adams to answer that question was a sign of leadership, of him lending some much-needed support with the Thunder on the brink of elimination.

Boston blew a 20-point lead, but Thomas keyed a third-quarter run that put the Celtics back on top after Chicago briefly went ahead.

After providing little help for Westbrook in Game's 1 and 2, four other OKC players scored in double figures in Game 3, while Taj Gibson stepped up in the biggest way. Nene finished 12-12 from the field. Though, Roberson himself is an NBA basketball player. When he re-entered less than three minutes into the fourth, Houston led.

Houston was able to overcome a double-digit deficit in Game 2, falling into an early 16-4 hole. If a Game 6 is necessary, it would be played in Oklahoma City on Thursday.

Either way, the end result showed how Westbrook is fully in charge of everything that's happening in Oklahoma City.

During the regular season, Roberson was at 42 percent shooter from the free-throw line.

The team's entire offensive attack revolves directly through him and Oklahoma City's MVP candidate has shouldered the load throughout the entire season, willing his franchise to the playoffs with historic night after historic night.

Harden went 5-for-16 from the field including going 0-for-7 from 3-point range for 16 points. As he's trying to explain why he shouldn't be judged any differently than his teammates, Westbrook refuses to allow one of those teammates voice his own thoughts on the matter. With that rebound, Westbrook ended the first half with a 17-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist triple-double.

  • Leroy Wright