The Houston Rockets gave it their best shot from an effort standpoint, but some ice-cold shooting and downright embarrassing officiating did them in, as they fell to the Golden State Warriors 101-92 to end their season.
The Rockets finished the game just 7-44 from beyond the arc and at one point missed a mind-boggling 27 straight three-pointers, as they watched a 15-point first-half lead fade under the weight of a typical Warriors’ third-quarter run.
The Rockets also fell victim to some inexplicably bad officiating, as the refs missed numerous muggings when the Rockets were driving to the hoop, three separate fouls on James Harden as he was shooting threes, including one that went in and should have been a four-point opportunity that was instead called on the floor, and also missed the usual Golden State moving screens, including what might have been the single most egregious moving screen I’ve seen in my decade-plus of covering the NBA.
Steph Curry is so good at moving to get the ball back right after he gives it up. Tucker relaxed for a second, and Bell was ready to screen his own guy #TwitterNBAShow https://t.co/57Ztw8pfkc pic.twitter.com/aECkMyri0E— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) May 29, 2018
In fact, the Dubs were doing it all night, and it wasn’t called a single time.
Must be nice Looney knew he’d be able to get away with that pic.twitter.com/BYDDh9W1ry— Playoff NBA All Access (@nballaccess) May 29, 2018
It’s hard to place the blame on the officials with the Rockets missing so badly from deep, but we’ve gone over plenty of times what missed calls do to momentum and how they open up opportunities for the other team. Combine that with the poor shooting, an injured Chris Paul, and the Warriors heating up after the break and winning the third quarter 33-15, and you have the difference in the game.
Harden led the Rockets with 32 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals, including 14 points in the opening quarter, but he was just 12-29 from the field and 2-13 from deep. The Rockets also got 23 from Eric Gordon, but he was 9-22 shooting and 2-12 from three.
Clint Capela had his best game of the series, going for 20 points and 9 boards on 9-10 shooting, and P.J. Tucker had a monster 14-point, 12-rebound double-double, including 8 offensive rebounds, the majority of which came in the first half in which he set the early tone of the game with his hustle and it appeared that the Rockets might actually pull this thing off.
The Warriors were led by Kevin Durant with 34, and they also got 27 from Steph Curry, and both guys heated up in the second half and hit some absolutely devastating shots with Rockets defenders in their face.
The Dubs also got 19 from Klay Thompson and 10 points and 13 rebounds from Draymond Green to round out the Golden State players in double figures.
Houston’s season now comes to a close, and though it didn’t quite end the way we all wanted, don’t let the bitter taste of a Game 7 defeat sour a phenomenal season in which the Rockets won a franchise-record 65 games. It sure was a fun one to be a part of.
The Rockets now turn their attention to the offseason, and there are plenty of questions to address in the coming days ranging from Paul and Capela’s free agency, tweaks to the role players and possibly even a run at LeBron James.
The Warriors, meanwhile, will face James in the finals for the fourth straight season, and I have no doubt they will benefit from numerous questionable calls and possibly even a major injury to the Cavs.
I’d also love to see the Association do something about this officiating, which has left a serious pock mark on the game after these conference finals, but we all know in reality, it’ll simply be swept under the rug.
Despite the finish, I want to thank the Rockets for a great year of basketball. I know they’ll be back and better than ever next season, and I’ll have more to say on these things in the coming days.