The Houston Rockets had their chances. Kevin Durant was out. Stephen Curry had 0 points at the break. Chris Paul played his best game of the playoffs. But after going up by 7 early in the fourth quarter, the Rockets collapsed into a succession of missed easy layups and turnovers, while Curry and Klay Thompson showed their championship pedigree by finishing strong, and the Rockets were eliminated in the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors for the fourth time in the last five years in a 118-113 defeat at home in Game 6.
The Rockets fought neck and neck with the Dubs most of the night, and just when it appeared that Houston was about to gradually takeover in the fourth, James Harden and Eric Gordon missed easy layups, Clint Capela (who was mostly awful again), missed an easy dunk (though there was a clear no-call foul on Draymond Green), followed by Harden committing an offensive foul with 2:24 left and then turning it over on a bad pass with 1:30 remaining.
Klay and Curry hit some vintage Splash Brothers shots while the Rockets were busy vomiting all over themselves one more time, and that was all she wrote.
Harden was Houston’s leading scorer, finishing with 35 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals, but he was 11-25 from the field and just 7-12 from the free throw line, with all 5 misses coming in the first half.
Chris Paul was the best player on the Rockets, however, finishing with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists on 11-19 from the field. We finally got a vintage CP3 game, and he kept the Rockets in front when every possession was a struggle, but he was inexplicably left on the bench for several extra minutes in the fourth with Houston’s offense clearly struggling the Rockets still possessing three time outs. Mike D’Antoni choked on himself too.
P.J. Tucker, who was Houston’s MVP this series, had himself another fine game, finishing with 15 points and was once again all over the place, while Clint Capela had a 10-point, 10-rebound double double, but was routinely abused most of the night. At one point, Kevon Looney blew by him for a dunk attempt, which he missed, then out-hustled Capela to the offensive rebound, while Clint floundered on the deck like a fish, and it led directly to a Golden State bucket. Capela leaves us with more questions than answers.
Eric Gordon had just 9 points, and Houston’s bench, outside of Austin Rivers, who finished with 9, was essentially non-existent. Gerald Green had 6 points, but he made several awful decisions in the second half and finished the game just 2-9 shooting, while Iman Shumpert and Nene combined for 2 points.
Steph Curry finished with 33 points, every last stinking one of them in the second half after going into the break shooting 0-5, and Klay Thompson finished with 27 to lead the Dubs.
Andre Iguodala pitched in 17, including 5 triples, as the Rockets dared Iggy to beat them with his shot, and he did. Kevon Looney had 14 and Shaun Livingston had 11, as Houston’s bench was outscored 33-17.
The Rockets now head into another offseason of soul-searching and questions. Will James Harden ever get over the hump? Is CP3 washed? Is Clint Capela simply a product of the system? What role players can the Rockets bring in?
We’ll be tackling all those questions and more in the coming days here at TDS, but in the meantime, we’ll be mourning yet another season that ended too soon.