Win or go home? How about win -- and go home for Game 6.
|Final - 5.1.2013
|Oklahoma City Thunder
The Houston Rockets surprised everyone by slamming the mute button on Chesapeake Arena and delivering a huge performance with their backs against the wall.
If you're the #1 seed and you're resorting to Hack-A-Shaq on the #8 seed, things probably are not going as you planned.
Nobody in the NBA can be more surprised tonight than the Thunder themselves: Kevin Durant delivered zero fourth quarter points. Kevin Martin shot 1 of 10. Scott Brooks had no answers for the Rockets offense or defense.
Hell, if tonight were a pop quiz in Algebra II then the Rockets were sitting in the front row with a pocket protector, black framed glasses and fresh batteries in their TI-81.
The Rockets offense stuck all the right notes with transition baskets built by smart outlet passes and quick movement. In the half-court the Rockets didn't settle for iso heavy sets that failed in Games 1 & 2. They found the open shooter.
The Rockets quick play forced Scott Brooks to abandon his million dollar plan of playing "two centers at the same time" -- To paraphrase Lawrence from Office Space.
It also helps that Patrick Beverley has ice water in his veins. Time-after-time the Thunder crowd booed him as he drove to the hole for two points and refused to allow his energy or determination to waver.
The Thunder defense had no answers for the hot shooting of James Harden -- 7 for 7 from three at one point -- or Francisco Garcia who went 4 - 8 in the first half, all open looks.
Meanwhile, the Thunder offense had no answer for a Rockets defense that forced the ball out of Durant's hands. The Thunder supporting cast wilted when asked to carry the load of a missing Russell Westbrook and a heavily pressured Kevin Durant.
The Rockets defense visibly irritated Durant who spent much of the game trash talking with Rockets players and begging officials.
Scott Brooks committed an early candidate for "2013 WTF Playoff Moment" when he reverted to Hack-an-Omer with six minutes left in the game.
The strategy failed to drive Asik from the game. The Turk rose to the occasion by going 9 - 14 during the ploy.
The strategy seemed to backfire on the Thunder. By killing the run-of-play the Thunder allowed the Rockets to set up an effective half-court defense that had been pestering Durant and forcing other members of the Thunder to step up.
Quick Game Notes:
- Jeremy Lin did not suit up for the game.
- Carlos Delfino left the game in the second quarter and did not return.
- McHale stuck to a seven man rotation once Delfino was tapped out.
- The Rockets had only 12 turnovers. Only one turnover in the first quarter.
- Kevin Durant scored 0 points in the fourth quarter.
- Aaron Brooks, who saw that coming?
- Patrick Beverley wore shoes that appear to give him unlimited turbo in NBA Jam.
- Omer Asik went 13 - 18 from the line on the night. 9 - 14 during Hack-an-Omer.
- The Rockets shot 40% from three.