Leave it to the last game of the season for the dramatics, not to mention the location. The Lakers out muscled the Rockets Wednesday night for a 99-95 victory in overtime. Houston was lucky to be in overtime as it took a 26 foot three pointer from Chandler Parsons at the end of regulation to tie the game at 90. In the end Parsons shot would only deny the inevitable. Costly turnovers and the Lakers domination on the board was too much for Houston to handle. The loss drops the Rockets to the 8th seed and will now face Oklahoma City Sunday night. Both Houston and LA will finish the season with identical records 45-37.
Thoughts on the game:
- In the second half and overtime the Rockets only scored 45 points. They had countless droughts where the offense looked staggered. The ball movement that was present in the first half was gone. In the fourth quarter the Rockets found it tough to get any sort of penetration into the lane. The Lakers twin towers made life impossible for James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Parsons in the fourth quarter. With three and a half minutes left in the game the only offense the Rockets could muster was a Harden contested layup and the Parsons desperation three. The overtime was no different. Houston did not make it's first field goal until 1:10 left in the game. Not counting a Parsons free throw.
- There's an old saying in basketball circles, "Live by the three, Die by the three", and that was the Rockets undoing. One of the best three-point shooting teams in the league went 8-33 from behind the arc. A measly 24%. In the fourth quarter Houston only converted four three pointers. Hard to believe considering the Rockets made close to 900 three pointers in the regular season, their second highest total was in the 2006-07 season when they made 705. For the Rockets to surprise people and beat Oklahoma City they're going to need to make three pointers.
- In the Rockets second to last possession of the game with :49 seconds left they were unable to successfully run a play. This is a problem the Rockets have had all season long, when it comes time to run a set play they get dazed and confused. Leading to last second desperation shots. This possession is worse because it's coming out of a timeout. Elite teams are able to score in situations like that and for the Rockets that's the next thing to learn.
- Steve Blake did his best White Mamba impersonation on his way to scoring 24 points. More times than not he would lose Lin and be open on the corner or wing for an open three. The case was different when Patrick Beverly was in the game. Beverly pestered him and made life uncomfortable for him. Regardless the damage was done. Heading into Sunday's playoff game against the Thunder it has to be on McHale's mind that Lin is gonna have to guard one of the most dynamic point guards in the league in Russell Westbrook. Might Kevin Mchale opt to play Beverly key minutes in the playoffs.
- Omer Asik did an excellent job on Dwight Howard in the first half. Holding him to four points. Howard ended the night with 16 points and 17 rebounds but earned every one of them. Asik stood his ground and went toe to toe with Howard. Even getting a key block in the fourth quarter that led to a failed fast break on the other end.
- In the fourth quarter when the Rockets were struggling to string two passes together it was their defense that was on display. With less than a minute to play in the game the Rockets stymy defense caused a Lakers shot clock violation and gave the ball to Houston with :49 seconds. Of course any talk of defense goes out the window when the end result is a loss.
- As state before Lin played horrible defense and let Blake run around shooting threes. Offensively he had some nice open court lay-ups in the first half, but when the team needed him he was nowhere to be found. His was a tale of two halves. If Lin wants to be a difference maker with Houston he's going to have to start making more of an effort on defense. McHale has shown in the past that he has no problem going with Beverly at the end of the game.
- The Beard had 30 points but he took a lot of shots to get here. Harden did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 18 points. Tonight's season finale was an ineffective night for Harden, shooting 8/25 from the field and 4/13 from behind the arc. Harden did write his name in the Houston Rockets history books becoming the fifth Rocket to score more than 2,000 points in a season.
- Time and time again when the Rockets needed a basket Parsons was there. Including making back-to-back lay ups to end the third quarter. Parsons game and emergence this season reminds me of another basketball great who also played a sidekick role to a star. Scottie Pippen. Both players have a similar game and Parsons seems to play better in big games. This season has taught us that Parsons is not afraid to take the last shot, evident by his three at the buzzer. If Parsons puts on a couple of good performances in the playoffs he's going to become a well-paid man. Daryl Morey start getting the check ready. Parsons has the potential to be a long time Rocket.
- The Greg Smith experiment continues. Smith got outplayed by the veteran Pau Gasol, who notched 17 points and 20 rebounds. It's safe to say the Rockets miss Patrick Patterson's mid range jumper. When Donatas Motiejunas was in the starting lineup he was too passive and shot the ball inconsistently. Smith is a bulldozer so while he helps Houston bang in the paint, they lose some offense. Might it be time for Terrance Jones to get a crack at the starting power forward spot.
- Asik's hands seemed to have let him down tonight. He was involved in four failed alley-oops when he couldn't grab the ball. Other times we would fumbled the rebound or let it get poked away. Despite his lack of offensive skills, which have improved from his last year with Chicago, Asik has proved to be a legitimate defensive center in the NBA. HIs game is tailored suited for what Houston wants to do. If he ever gets paired up with a solid power forward that would make for a powerful front court.
- The Houston bench could have lifted the Rockets from their offensive slump in the second half but they were unable to get it going either. Special note: Beverly is a man with no fear. With 6:30 left in the fourth quarter he went up in the air with the intention of throwing it down on Howard, but was foul before he could do so. Beverly is 6'1 compared to the 6'10 Howard.
- Mchale went small to start the fourth quarter and it proved to be the starting point for LA's comeback. With Gasol and Howard in the game the Lakers were able to take control of the paint and draw fouls. With LA trotting out their All-Stars to start the fourth quarter, McHale should have gone with a combination of Asik, Jones, and Smith. And with 6:18 left in the game McHale opted to sub Beverly out for Lin, despite the fact that Beverly had just scored and made the Lakers turn the ball over. While he didn't have the points his hustle and unwavering fear could have helped Houston.
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|Los Angeles Lakers||21||23||22||24||9||99|