Houston Rockets: Is Houston Still Clutch City?


One score and one year ago the Rockets resurrected the City of Houston. On the 21st Anniversary of  the back-to-back NBA Championship and the birth of “Clutch City” it’s hard to tell if the Rockets have learned from their history or are doomed to repeat their past. Before becoming Clutch City, Houston was known as “Choke City”.

The Houston Rockets came back from the brink of playoff elimination, to win the 1994 Western Conference Semi-Finals after losing the first two games to the Phoenix Suns at home, hence the birth of “Clutch City”. Houston then went on to beat the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference Finals and advance to the NBA Finals, where the momentum continued, and defeated the New York Knicks in a seven game series to capture the first Major championship for the City of Houston.

The Rockets after being down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Semi-Finals battled back to win three straight games and the series. The Rockets face another monumental task, having spotted the Golden State Warriors a three game lead in the Western Conference Finals. Being down 3-1, what better time is there to manifest the slogan “Clutch City”. There’s a lyric in Gang Starr’s song “Moment of Truth” that says,

“It’s universal, you play with fire it may hurt you, or burn you, lessons are blessings you should learn through”

The blessing for Houston is having the opportunity to play in the Western Conference Finals. They’re having a tremendous season. The lesson is “Carpe diem” which translate into seize the day. Play to win each time you go out on the court, because you may never get the opportunity again to reach the NBA Finals.

The Moment of Truth is now, for this passive-aggressive Rockets team. It’s time for James Harden to decide whether he wants to be a star or a legend. He has to be more assertive offensively, a minimum of 24 shots.  That’s the only way Houston can win a championship without a true starting point guard. Walt “The Clyde” Frazier once said, “In the regular season, you make your name, but in the playoffs you make your fame.” Harden has to do more than what he did in the regular season. Period.

May 23, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts during the first half against the Golden State Warriors in game three of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden has erroneously deferred to veterans Dwight Howard and Josh Smith on the offensive end, looking to get them involved. The Rockets’ team torch was passed at the closing seconds of Game 2, when Harden passed out of a double team to a trailing silhouette of red a the top of the key. That trailing player happened to be Dwight Howard, who immediately passed the ball back to the doubled-teamed Harden who fumbled the ball. Rockets lose. The Rockets need all players to contribute, but the onus to win is on Harden.

A lot is on Harden’s plate. He’s at a disadvantage because he basically has to play both guard positions. He’s dependent upon facilitating teammates waiting to take open jump shots, post-players are depending on his penetration in the pick and roll, which usually translate into dunks for Dwight Howard or Clint Capela. Harden also has to create his own shots in the mist of being double teamed defensively. A very tough task indeed, but truth be told, that’s what an MVP candidate is supposed to do.

It was all good, just a week ago, advancing to the Western Conference Finals; now it may be all gone the very following week.

There is  passage from Dr. Suess’s “Mad Hatter”,  “How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June.

My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” the Rockets have to give credit where credit is due.

Heading into Game Four of the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors had beaten the Rockets seven straight games this season.

The Rockets have proven that they can beat the Warriors, now they have to prove that they can beat Golden State on the road in Oracle Arena where they’ve only lost three times all year, including the playoffs.

Two score years ago, a championship banner was raised in the City of Oakland and the Warriors could eventually represent the West in the NBA Finals. Bottom line we don’t know if the Rockets are good enough to win a championship this season, the Warriors may just be a better team.  Houston is still Clutch City, but only barley, if they pull the curtains back from the window “Choke City” has already been peaking inside.

Next: A Video Break Down of Game 4

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