The Houston Rockets took one on the chin tonight, as they led the Oklahoma City Thunder for the majority of the contest, but some poor three-point shooting combined with a sequence of bad officiating (sound familiar?) and a James Harden foul out to send the Rockets to a 119-107 Game 3 defeat.
The Rockets were clinging to a 103-101 lead down the closing moments of the fourth quarter when Steven Adams knocked a pass out of bounds. The ball clearly changed directions in mid-air, and closer look at the play shows Adams touching the ball. But not only did the refs get it wrong, but they initially called it correctly, only to inexplicably overturn the call.
The overturn led to a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander three-pointer with 14 seconds left in on the clock to put the Thunder up 104-103, and a 1-2 trip to the line from Danuel House sent the game to overtime, as Chris Paul missed a layup at the buzzer.
But James Harden nabbed his sixth foul 30 seconds into overtime, and the Rockets couldn’t buy a bucket, going 0-7 from the field in the extra frame, as Houston lost their first game of the series and now hold a 2-1 lead.
The Beard led the way for the Rockets with 38 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists, though he had another poor night from three, going just 3-13 from beyond the arc (12-27 overall). The Rockets were just 15-50 as team from deep on the night, as Eric Gordon also continued to struggle with his three ball, going just 2-10.
This was the first game of the series that Houston could have really used Russell Westbrook, who remains sidelined with a quad strain. The Rockets scored inside at will in the first half, racking up 36 points in the paint before the break, but only had 10 in the second half. And with the three-ball not falling, having Russ to get inside might have just been the difference.
Jeff Green played another great game for Houston, going for 22 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, and 2 blocks on 8-13 from the field and 5-8 from deep, while Danuel House finished with 15 points and 10 boards on 5-10 shooting. Eric Gordon had 18, but he was 8-24 overall shooting, and the Rockets need him to find his shot moving forward. Same old story there.
The Thunder were led by Chris Paul, who finished with 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists on 11-20 from the field, including several big shots in overtime, and they also got 23 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals from Gilgeous-Alexander, 20 points from Danilo Gallinari, and a huge 29 from Dennis Schroder off the bench.
Despite the loss, there’s reason for optimism. Houston didn’t play well, didn’t shoot well, and weren’t at full strength, and the Thunder still needed a gift from the officials to not be down 3-0 in the series. In addition, OKC shot 34 free throws to Houston’s 23.
The series moves on to Monday’s Game 4, as the two teams will be back in action at 3:00pm CST in the afternoon. Be there!