By Chad Cooper
Rockets fan 2018: Offseason is gonna be so long.
Rockets fan 2019: Hold my beer.
Houston had the Bad Guys beat last year – up 3-2 only to falter the final two games including a Game 7 loss at home. Rockets had the Warriors in prime position to finally slay their immortals in Game 5 when Kevin Durant went down with an injury in the 3rd Qtr, yet failed to do so.
With 10:41 remaining in the game, the Rockets held a commanding 89-82 lead, which was their largest of the game. With another Golden State turnover, the Rockets had a 3-on-1 with Gerald Green running the break. He passed to Eric Gordon, who stopped at the 3-point line, then passed back to Green who settled for a fadeway jumper – CLANK. GSW with the rebound and with no hesitation, Seth Curry drains a 3…A 5-6 point swing that changed the game. Warriors went on a 10-2 run.
All of this in front of the Mother of Dragons – Daenerys Stormborn – Emilia Clarke watching courtside.
I tweeted that sole possession would come back to haunt Houston if they lose the game. They did, 118-113, and were eliminated in the playoffs again by the Warriors, the 4th time in 5 seasons.
Curry, who was non-existent throughout much of the game, scored 23 4th Qtr points (33 in the 2nd half), and 16 of those came in the last 5 minutes of the game. As much as I can’t stand him, that’s high-level baller status.
The Warriors played with Championship pride, which is something the Rockets lacked. Missed layups late in the game, whether they were fouled or not, costly turnovers and poor coaching (more on that in a bit).
James Harden with 35 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. He was 7-of-12 from the charity stripe, which stung, but that’s not why they lost. He was hesitant yet again in the 4th and became too passive. But, that’s not why they lost.
Chris Paul played his best playoff game this season – 27 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists. CP3 sat for several minutes in the 4th, for what reason? IDK. Ask D’Antoni (more on that in a bit).
PJ Tucker with another strong effort. Tuck had 15 points and sacrificed himself all over the court.
For the first time this series, the team who controlled the boards lost. Rockets led 40-35 and despite the advantage, GSW stayed in the game early with offensive rebounds.
Now for the bad news…
Gerald Green was a steamy pile of awful with 6 points on 2-9 shooting with bad decision after bad decision.
Eric Gordon picked a fine time to disappear, 9 points. The Warriors, who many said “didn’t have a good bench” accepted the challenge and outscored the Rockets subs 33-17.
Clint Capela did have a double-double, but he looked lost this series. He flopped around like a cheap prized goldfish won at a parking lot carnival. Kevin freaking Looney outworked him. After a $90 million contract extension last summer, his agent should be arrested for grand theft larceny.
Harden was asked postgame what the Rockets needed to do to beat the Warriors in the playoffs – “I know what we need to do. I know exactly what we need to do. We’ll figure it out this summer.” He was asked about specifics… “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Well, I do James.
Is the Mike D’Antonio experiment over?
The Rockets put up gaudy numbers in his offense the last two seasons especially what Harden accomplished this year with an unprecedented 30-point streak, which last 32 games.
That’s all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t matter when you can’t beat the Warriors. This offense cannot beat the Warriors in the playoffs. Fact. The Rockets won the regular season series 3-1 even winning in Oakland, twice. Doesn’t matter when you can’t beat them when it counts.
If the Rockets are truly serious about getting over the Warriors, they will start with their head coach.
Even if KD takes the $ and runs to New York, they still can’t beat Golden State.