This season has been incredible.
It gave us MVP James Harden, a two-way terror capable of carrying a team atop the hardest division in NBA history and near the top of the deepest conference in memory.
It gave us the emergence of Corey Brewer and Josh Smith, key bench cogs, who came in an gave life to a bench unit that started out the year with Tarik Black, Francisco Garcia and Isaiah Canaan playing meaningful minutes.
It gave us the return of Playoff Dwight, who so soundly dominated the Mavericks in round one that it covered up the many should-have-been-apparent flaws the Rockets displayed on their way to a gentleman's sweep.
The Rockets gave their fans everything they had this year... until about a week ago, when they stopped giving.
Perhaps they were mentally defeated by deflating stretches of play, missed shots and swallowed whistles. Who knows the reason. Whatever it was, the team that became the success story of the regular season through sheer grit and competitiveness has now become the laughingstock of the conference semifinals, the one team of the eight remaining that doesn't look like it belongs.
And, let's be fair, it's hard to imagine even this incarnation of the Rockets losing four out of seven games to any of the four Eastern Conference opponents.
No matter how we got to this point, the season is on the brink tonight. The Rockets might have just 48 minutes left in front of their fans, who have turned into some of the most hardcore homers on the Internet (and we couldn't be prouder).
We deserve better. Kevin McHale and Daryl Morey, who have done phenomenal work this year, deserve better. Everyone around this team deserves better than the Rockets players have given. I'm not asking for a victory -- that might just not be in the cards against what might be the best team in the league -- just for a fight.
One last fight that would make Patrick Beverley proud isn't too much to ask for. One last Beard explosion. One last OMG COREY BREWER third-quarter stretch. One last time hearing the Toyota Center's roof come down on a James Harden, stepback three-pointer.
There might be a lot of "one lasts" tonight. I hope when it's all said and done, these "one last time" comments turn into "one more game" mantras. But the Rockets need to fight to make that happen.