Rockets Give it Away
Tuesday night in San Antonio was an iminently winnable game for the Houston Rockets. Mike D’Antoni’s squad was humming on offense in the first half, led by James Harden. Harden was a revelation in the first half, repeatedly getting to the rim and facilitating an offense that scored 60 points in the first two quarters. The first half defense was lacking, though, for both teams, as they combined for 118 points by intermission. The Rockets led by 2 at the break after Danny Green nailed the first of several clutch baskets with a three ball just before halftime.
The second half was a disjointed affair, with neither team getting into any offensive rhythm. To say the Rockets choked away this win is a disservice to the battle-tested Spurs. Their grit and resiliency showed through time and time again with Manu Ginobili repeatedly revving up his team and the home crowd. Harden had a statistically monster triple-double but it was as hollow as any by Russell Westbrook with 4-14 shooting from three and nine turnovers. He nearly had a quadruple double with the 4th category of being turnovers as a gigantic negative for his team. After having watched the Rockets all season long, I know that if they aren’t winning by 10 at the beginning of the fourth that they have a better than not chance to lose. This year’s version of the Rockets do not live up to the Clutch City moniker claimed by Houston.
For some inexplicable reason, Mike D’Antoni’s famed 7 seconds or less offense bogged down in the last frame as well as overtime. Possession after possession saw James Harden slowly walking the ball up the floor and waiting for a traditional pick and roll to evolve. The Rockets were an explosive and efficient offense all season and in every game of the playoffs thus far until “winning time,” in Game 5. Would the Rockets have stepped on the accelerator with their stable full of playmakers instead of inching the ball up the floor with Harden they may be up 3-2 instead of down 2-3 in the series.
Game 6 sees the series return to Houston on Thursday. The Rockets will only survive to play a Game 7 if they keep the gas pedal pushed to the floor for 48 minutes against this aged San Antonio squad. Playing to the size and strengths of the Spurs will not bode well for a win; but if they keep running after misses and makes the likes of Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and David Lee with be left in the dust as Houston races down the floor. This next game could be regarded like the zombie apocalypse: Run and you may live, walk and you will die. Can’t wait to see what happens!