What a night to be a Rockets fan. With Tony Parker dominating down the stretch, it looked like a great win might slip out of the Rockets' hands with just minutes left. A couple of minutes later, James Harden took the game into his hands and dealt the stunned Spurs a painful loss that Rockets fans will remember for a long time.
With a minute and a half left, Parker was tidying up a 10-0 run on his own to take the Spurs from six down to four up, and Manu Ginobili stole the ball away from Chandler Parsons to start a break.
Then, out of nowhere, Patrick Beverley swooped in and swatted Danny Green's layup, sending it forcefully into the backboard. James Harden corralled the loose ball and threw it to Chandler Parsons, who was waiting for the shot outside the three point line. After Parsons shot went through, the Rockets were down just one and right back into it.
Parker and Harden would both hit a pair of free throws, and after a Kawhi Leonard miss and a dangerous near-turnover by Carlos Delfino, the stage would be set for James Harden. Down one with just 9.4 seconds left, the Rockets inbounded the ball to Omer Asik, who handed the ball off to Harden. Harden got to the free throw line with a defender on his back and one in front of him, and when he rose up trying to draw the foul call that was unlikely to come, the Rockets' possession seemed doomed.
Remarkably, the shot went down and the Rockets led with just 4 seconds left. One off-balance Tim Duncan miss later and the Rockets escaped with a 96-95 victory to take down the leaders in the Western Conference.
But that's not all there was in this one. Let's take a few minutes to look at three aspects of the game tonight!
Patrick Beverley Makes An Impact
With the Rockets getting almost nothing from Jeremy Lin, Kevin McHale opted to run with Patrick Beverley for a good deal of tonight's contest. Beverley didn't miss a shot until the fourth quarter, and more importantly played tremendous defense on Tony Parker for much of the night.
Lin has been big for the Rockets as of late, but when he struggles, Beverley's contributions are much-needed. Beverley continues a big couple of weeks for the Rockets, and his emergence is very welcome as the playoffs approach.
Asik Shuts Duncan Down
The Spurs seemed intent on establishing Tim Duncan in the post against Omer Asik, possibly to get Asik in foul trouble and likely because Duncan remains a tremendous threat down low. Tonight, Asik was up for the task, limiting Duncan to 17 points on 18 shots, and controlling the paint all night long.
Asik continues to amaze me with his defensive prowess, not going for fakes and staying disciplined. Going against a wily veteran in Tim Duncan, that prowess was on display, and Asik managed to stay on the floor long enough to keep the game within reach.
Greg Smith Did Something Crazy
We all know Greg Smith is a tremendous athlete, but this was unbelievable. Poor Tiaggo Splitter.
The Rockets are off for a few days until Wednesday when they take on the Indiana Pacers at the Toyota Center. For now, soak this one in. It doesn't get much better than this.