HOUSTON -- The Houston Rockets offered a glimpse on Monday night of how they will have to play all season.
Kevin Durant scored 20 points in 26 minutes before sitting out the fourth quarter for the Thunder (2-3).
Houston took control in the third quarter, forcing five turnovers and holding the Thunder to 21 percent shooting from the field (4 of 19).
"We were flying around, covering for each other, playing defense the way that we know we should," forward Shane Battier said. "That's going to be the standard."
The Rockets led by one at halftime and built a 14-point lead in the third. Ariza drove for two layups and hit a 3-pointer during an 18-5 run that put Houston ahead 79-65. Ariza scored 10 points and Hayes grabbed five rebounds in the quarter, when Houston outscored Oklahoma City 26-15.
"I hope the guys understand that this has to be who we are every night," Battier said. "We have to be a team that fights, attacks, plays loose and at the same time, holds our principles true. We have to scrap for every loose ball, every rebound and be the aggressor every single night."
Battier joined four Houston reserves for the start of the final quarter and the Rockets maintained a comfortable lead by generating dunks and driving layups.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu, vying for a spot on the opening-day roster, finished two fast breaks with dunks off passes from Budinger to push the lead to 96-77 with about 5 minutes left.
"The whole game, we moved the ball well as a team," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "Especially in the second half, we made it a little tougher on them when we got into the open court. That's about as well as we've passed the ball.'
The Rockets shot 51 percent from the field for the game and held the Thunder to 33 second-half points.
"They turned it up defensively and we didn't do a good job of responding," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said.
Durant hit his first four shots, and his 3-pointer with 3:14 left in the opening quarter gave the Thunder their first lead, 22-20.
Durant scored 12 points in the first quarter, but Battier had 11 and the teams were tied at 33.
The Rockets led 53-52 at halftime even after Oklahoma City shot 57 percent from the field (21 of 37).
Houston went 7 of 10 from 3-point range in the half, and Durant said the Thunder needs to incorporate more 3s into its offense. Durant hit the Thunder's only two 3-pointers in the game.
"It's going to give us another dimension if we can knock down the 3," Durant said. "We need to perfect it. Houston does a great job of hitting the corner 3, and we can learn from what they do."
Rockets F Luis Scola sat out for the second time in three games with a sprained right ankle. ... Oklahoma City F Nick Collison made his preseason debut after sitting out with a sprained right ankle.
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