That didn't feel good at all. James Harden drove the lane late with the game tied at 100, an obvious foul wasn't called, and then Marc Gasol hit a fadeaway jumper with a tenth of a second left to down the Rockets, who shot five free throws all game. That's all I'll say about the refs this time. (OK, once more. Five total free throws.)
Look at this nonsense:
The Rockets showed impressive balance, with five players scoring double digits (and two more with 8). Obviously the Beard was the engine (18 points, 13 assists), but as Houston traded punches with Memphis, there always seemed to be another Rocket ready to step up with a big shot or drive. It was a really encouraging sign against one of the elite defensive teams in the league.
Donatas Motiejunas started strong in the first quarter, hitting a couple of threes and some low-post layups, but once he hit foul trouble, he was cooked. Even when he came back in the second half, his confidence was shot for some reason and he was 0-7 from the field after halftime. After a gruesome turnover early in the fourth, he didn't see the floor again, and he didn't deserve to.
I know the Rockets are good with or without Dwight, but man they're going to need him if they see Memphis in the playoffs. Donuts got pushed around like a kid, T-Jones fought hard but is too small to check Z-Bo, and Tony Allen got four offensive rebounds, which is just too many. With Dwight, the Grizzlies aren't that bad of a matchup for Houston. Without him, it might get ugly.
The Grizzlies might be the toughest defensive assignment Terrence Jones will draw all season. That said, his offense has gone into the stratosphere. We showed a lot of love for Josh Smith while T-Jones was out, but it's clear who the better player is right now. He's a ferocious rebounder, he's working harder to get his shots in the paint than ever before (and hitting them), and he's running the floor all game, every game. He also did this:
What a godsend he's been. He finished with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks against big defenders. Without him, this game would have been a blowout.
Trevor Ariza once again had a rough night, shooting 0-4 from the three-point line. Strangely, he hit three long two-pointers and a tough turnaround midrange jumper to get his eight points -- he basically played like he was back on the midrange squads of the Knicks, Lakers or Wizards. He still did a good job on Jeff Green defensively, but the Grizzlies' offense ran through the two bigs tonight.
Josh Smith played well most of the game, but while the Grizzlies were stretching their lead to ten points midway through the fourth quarter, he was rushing shots, taking bad ones, and turning the ball over. Kevin McHale, to his credit, took Smoove out too and went ultra-small with a lineup of Beverley, Brewer, Harden, Ariza and Jones to close out the game. And they did come back with that lineup, something that you might see more of if Donuts and Smoove can't get their act together.
This recap could be longer, but I'm holding out hope the refs realize their mistake, get both teams back off their buses, and replay the last 15 seconds. If you're reading this the morning after, it didn't happen.