Just one day after the Oklahoma City Thunder announced that guard Russell Westbrook would miss the remainder of the postseason with a torn meniscus in his right knee, the Houston Rockets and Thunder faced off in the Toyota Center in a dramatically different series than the one they had left in Oklahoma City. Without Westbrook, the Thunder would face a tall task to complete the sweep and take out the Rockets, but they certainly made a case to put the Rockets away early, going up as many as 26 in the first quarter.
The real story in Houston, however, was how the Rockets responded. Not deterred by the poor first half, the Rockets, propelled by big performances from Francisco Garcia and Carlos Delfino, went nuts in the third and fourth quarters to erase the deficit and bring the Rockets back into the game. With just 45 seconds left, Garcia hit his 4th triple of the night to put the Rockets up two, and it seemed like they would be able to seal the deal.
Then, this happened. The Rockets had already been victimized by absurd luck on the rims earlier in this season when Monta Ellis hit a game-winning buzzer beater that took off all the paint on the rim, but Durant's was even more vicious, climbing some twenty feet off the ground before going off the rim again and into the basket. A few seconds later, the Rockets had fallen and the series had seemed to go along with it.
As an outside observer, it's easy to talk about how important these licks the Rockets are taking are for their development as a young team, but they are downright painful to watch as a fan. Still, there were signs of life yet again from the Rockets and a lot to be optimistic about for the future tonight. Can they fight back and take game four? Only time will tell.