In a special edition of Weekly Pulse, Mackenzie Salmon is joined by USA TODAY Sports reporters Mark Medina, Jeff Zillgitt, Nancy Armour and Jarrett Bell for a roundtable discussion on the meteoric changes that could take place in America as a result of a historic week in sports.


The Houston Rockets blew past the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-80 in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead.

Here are five takeaways:

Schroder and Tucker ejected: Thunder guard Dennis Schroder had a monster first half. While the starters struggled, Schroder scored 19 points and was active on defense.

He was on pace to break another playoff career high in scoring. But with 6:51 left in the third quarter, Schroder and Rockets center P.J. Tucker were ejected from the game.

As Schroder fought through a Tucker screen, Schroder struck Tucker below the belt. Tucker was none too pleased and gave Schroder a soft head-butt from behind.

The play was reviewed and both players were tossed. It was a win for the Rockets.

The Thunder were already trailing by 17 points, and they were getting little offensive production outside of Schroder.

Starting slow: The Thunder’s starting lineup of Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams entered the game having been outscored in the series by 34 points per 100 possessions.

Thunder coach Billy Donovan has stuck with the group, and it started similarly slow in Game 5.

The Thunder starters were outscored 16-7 to begin the game, and Oklahoma City fell into a 24-14 first-quarter hole. The Thunder shot 5-of-26 overall and 1-of-12 from 3-point range in the first quarter.

The same Thunder lineup was outscored 8-0 to start the third quarter before Donovan subbed out Dort in favor of Schroder two minutes into the second half.

The Rockets started the second half on a 19-2 run.

Gilgeous-Alexander and Gallinari struggle: Gilgeous-Alexander shot 2-of-8 and Gallinari was 0-of-5.

Two players that averaged a combined 38 points this season had five points in Game 5. They both turned the ball over four times.

Dort dilemma: Dort’s defense against James Harden will continue to earn him minutes, but his offense sometimes subtracts from what his defense adds. That was the case Saturday.

The Rockets left Dort wide open, and the Thunder rookie gave Houston what it wanted. Dort shot 2-of-11 in the first half and 0-7 from 3-point range. Six of those long-range misses came in the first quarter.

Dort finished 3-of-16 for the game and 0-of-9 from 3-point range.

As for his defense against Harden, it wasn’t as good in Game 5. The Rockets star shot 11-of-15 and 4-of-8 from 3-point range for a game-high 31 points.

Westbrook returns: Rockets guard Russell Westbrook had a surprisingly quiet series debut. He played 24 minutes and tallied seven points, seven assists and six rebounds. Westbrook shot 3-of-13 from the floor.

He rocked the baby against his former team, busting out the celebration against Gilgeous-Alexander in the first quarter.

Westbrook missed the first four games of the series with a right quadriceps strain.


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