Last offseason, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook were traded for each other.
Late Monday night, Paul poured in 15 of his team-high 28 points in the fourth quarter for Oklahoma City while Westbrook, for Houston, committed the last of his game-high seven turnovers in the final seconds, robbing his team of the chance to force overtime or win at the buzzer.
That made for yet another “clutch” Thunder victory, their third of the series, meaning that in each of their wins over the Rockets, the game has been within five points with less than 5 minutes remaining.
The 104-100 decision means the Thunder and Rockets will tip off Game 7 at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Paul grabbed seven rebounds and dished three assists to go with his game-high points forged via 10 of 20 shooting and 5 of 5 free-throw shooting.
None of his points were bigger than the back-to-back 3-pointers he hit with 3:35 and 2:57 remaining, the first one answering a 14-1 Rocket run that had pushed Houston’s advantage to 98-92, the second one tying the game.
Paul actually registered two steals over Houston’s next three possessions, yet each time the Thunder came up empty.
After the score reached 100-100, a Westbrook miss gave OKC the chance to retake the lead after Paul drew a foul driving to the basket with 13.1 seconds remaining.
He made them.
“This is who we are,” Paul said, interviewed on the court.
Danilo Gallinari, who hit the clinching free throws with 3.8 seconds remaining, kept the Thunder going before Paul took over, finishing with 25 points on 9 of 17 shooting.
James Harden led the Rockets with 32 points on 11 of 22 shooting, 3 of 11 from 3-point range.
All season, the Thunder have been the NBA’s best clutch team and the were again Monday.
“Some people are built for it,” Paul said.