Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook relishes the moments when an opponent challenges him and his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates and it becomes time to respond.

Rookie Patrick Beverley showed a willingness to go toe-to-toe with the Thunder’s All-Star point guard, and the Houston Rockets didn’t back down despite a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Then it was up to Westbrook and the Thunder to come up with an answer.

Westbrook and Kevin Durant each scored 29 points, and Oklahoma City recovered after squandering its big lead to beat Houston 105-102 on Wednesday night and take a 2-0 series lead.

”It’s fun. During this time of the year, as a team we’ve got one goal and we can’t let nobody get in the way,” Westbrook said. ”That’s how I feel and that’s how I want my team to respond as well.”

Durant hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:28 to play after the Rockets had turned a 15-point deficit into a four-point lead, and the Thunder didn’t relinquish the lead. Durant missed a free throw with 1 second left, but Houston was out of timeouts and Carlos Delfino couldn’t connect on a desperation shot at the final buzzer.

”It’s frustrating and it hurts really bad right now,” said Chandler Parsons, who scored 17 points for Houston. ”But you’ve got to take some positives out of it. It’s a long series.” …

Harden ended up with 36 points and 11 rebounds, and Beverley had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Houston. The Rockets made up for a 40 percent shooting mark with a 57-40 advantage on the boards and a 50-30 scoring edge in the paint, engineering a massive turnaround after getting blown out 120-91 in Game 1…

After finishing second to Tyson Chandler last year’s voting for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Ibaka was third this year behind Marc Gasol and LeBron James. Ibaka has led the NBA in total blocks the past three seasons.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press