Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks let the numbers roll around in his head before doing some quick math and coming to the same conclusion that everyone else reached Thursday night at Toyota Center: What he just witnessed was unlike anything he ever saw.
The Thunder played a significant role in helping establish an NBA record for point disparity in two halves of the same game, stifling the Houston Rockets in the second half en route to a 104-92 comeback win.
Blitzed by the Rockets' perimeter shooting in the second quarter, the Thunder turned to their third-ranked defense and erased a 14-point halftime deficit. After Houston tallied a season-high 73 points in the first half, the Thunder surrendered just 19 points after the break, with the 54-point disparity going down in the annals as the largest ever.
The 19 points tied the second-lowest total posted in the second half of an NBA game, and a Houston franchise low for a second half.
"That's inspiring, but like I would tell the guys it's like an NBA season," Brooks said. "This game, giving up so many points and then locking up on the defensive end allowing them zero 3s is kind of like the ups and downs of a season.
"We've had some moments that we haven't played to our standards, but we still keep chipping away and figuring out ways to get better."
One move that resonated with the Thunder was Brooks showing the team all 12 3-pointers the Rockets drilled in the first half. Oklahoma City responded by limiting Houston to 7-for-36 (19.4 percent) shooting from the floor following intermission, including 0-for-14 from behind the arc.
Forward Kevin Durant paced the Thunder (29-10) with 36 points, including 10 in the third quarter when he matched the Rockets' output that period. His 3-pointer with one-tenth of a second left pulled the Thunder even entering the fourth, and Oklahoma City took the lead for good at 86-85 when guard Jeremy Lamb drilled a 3-pointer with 11:18 to play.
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka posted 21 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks, and point guard Reggie Jackson added 23 points and six steals.
Oklahoma City never found its offensive rhythm, shooting just 42.5 percent overall, but its suffocating defense proved sufficiently effective.
"It was special to see everybody play for each other and not worry about who missed a shot," Durant said. "We just didn't let it affect our defense, and we were able to come down and stifle them a little bit and get them out of their rhythm."
Houston guard James Harden totaled 16 points -- none in the second half -- with seven rebounds and eight assists. Five other Rockets scored in double figures, but forward Terrence Jones' six points led the way in the second half.
"We didn't get shots," Harden said. "We missed layups, a couple errant turnovers in transition that we could have converted on. Just small things."
The Rockets rediscovered their dormant 3-point shooting in the second quarter, and it propelled Houston to a breathtaking scoring exhibition.
Keyed by reserve guard Aaron Brooks and reserve forward/center Donatas Motiejunas, the Rockets (26-15) hit nine of 14 treys in the period, with both Brooks and Motiejunas closing the first half 3-for-4 from deep. Houston rode a stretch of four consecutive 3s to a double-digit lead, 58-48, wiping out a 41-34 Oklahoma City advantage with a 24-7 blitz.
Durant pulled the Thunder to within 63-60 largely from the line before Houston closed the half with a flourish and two last 3s, one from Motiejunas, another from forward Chandler Parsons for a 73-59 lead.
For Houston, the second half served as a stark contrast from the first.
"We were getting the ball moving and we really had a much better pace in the first half," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "We just didn't sustain our pace in the second half."
NOTES: The Thunder entered play Thursday ranked third in the NBA in defensive rating, allowing 98.2 points per 100 possessions. That stat offers another sign of roster growth, with the Thunder improving from ninth two seasons ago (100.0) to fourth last season (99.2). "I don't think our guys get enough credit for the defensive commitment that they bring," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "They're terrific offensive players, and they've done a great job of improving in that area of the floor, but defensively we've always been pretty good the last three years or so." ... The Rockets displayed a penchant for late-game rallies recently, continuing that trend with a 33-point fourth quarter in their 103-100 win over the Pelicans in New Orleans on Wednesday night. "I don't like the fact that we get off to lethargic starts at times, but there are some nights in the NBA where you get off to bad starts," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "They've shown an ability to come back."