HOUSTON AT OKLAHOMA CITY: Sunday, 4 p.m. PST. TV: NBA TV.
These teams last met in a roller coaster first-round playoff series. In Game 2, Rockets guard Patrick Beverley went for a steal and plowed into the Thunder's All-Star guard Russell Westbrook, who suffered a torn meniscus and needed surgery on his right knee. The Thunder eliminated Houston in six games, but without Westbrook it fell to Memphis in the second round. Forget about a Westbrook-Beverley rematch, though. On Friday Westbrook had his third knee surgery and is sidelined until the All-Star break. Beverley is out with a broken hand. The Thunder will depend on Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, plus young guards Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb, who have blossomed off the bench. Meanwhile, Houston landed the big free agent of last summer, Dwight Howard, whose game has rebounded playing alongside All-Star James Harden and young, sharpshooting forward Chandler Parsons. Both are high-scoring teams. But the Thunder has been almost perfect at home this season (13-1).