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Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Game 5 preview

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NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it’s been a fun season.

That’s a lie. It’s been as unfun of a season as Rockets fans have seen since 2015-16 when the team fired Kevin McHale after 11 games and finished with a 41-41 record. That team was frustrating to watch.

These Rockets have made it a contest though. After trading away Chris Paul (who of course went on to have a career year) for past-enemy Russell Westbrook, the Rockets went away from the cerebral collective they had been the previous two seasons and became a team that depended all too often on Russ’s whims. There was a stretch during January and February where Daryl Morey and Tilman Fertitta looked like geniuses for the move. As teams doubled James Harden and forced Russ to break down defenses 4-on-3. Russ obliged and the Rockets looked like contenders. Even the Clint Capela trade appeared to unleash a new gear in Russ, and thinks were looking up.

Then even before the NBA shut down, Houston started floundering. Harden had looked human once the calendar turned to 2020. The rock steady Harden, who normally had 5 bad nights a season, suddenly was having five games in a row where he looked off. Was it age? Was it disinterest?

But nothing compares to U the inconsistency of the Houston Rockets. I cannot remember any moment in the season when Houston wasn’t begging at least three of Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers, Danuel House Jr., P.J. Tucker, or Robert Covington to find their shot. It just never felt like the Rockets figured it out, and now they’re stuck with a lost season and out a lot of draft capital for an attack-first point guard whose aggressiveness actively hurt the team more than it helped. Finally, they had a lame duck coach who will undoubtedly be coaching another team next season.

At the end of the day, what makes it hardest to swallow is that Houston, with all its faults, still should have been able to put up a fight against the Los Angeles Lakers. They have the talent, and the game plan, to hang with the best team in the Western Conference. For the fifth time in six seasons, the Rockets will lose to the West’s top dogs.

At least they’re consistent in one thing.

Tip-off is at 7pm CT on ESPN