Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s all she wrote for the Houston Rockets. After a hard-fought and injury plagued season, the Rockets have ran out of miracles and will be watching the NBA Finals instead of playing in it like the rest of us.
Despite losing by 14 points, this game was not out of reach until the last 1:30 in the fourth. Houston gathered many opportunities to shed the deficit but simply could not overcome the barrier. They held the Warriors to only 40 percent shooting (31 percent from beyond the arc), Stephen Curry shot 7-21, Klay Thompson had five fouls early in the third quarter and returned only to be Falcon Kicked by Trevor Ariza but Houston’s mistakes trumped Golden State’s. Here’s a final breakdown and what went right and wrong in Game 5.
- The most positive outcome of this game from the Rockets was Dwight Howard‘s performance. Howard proved that he is still a dominant center and that he was not ready for vacation just yet. He exerted tremendous effort on both ends of the floor. He finished with 18 points, 16 boards, 4 blocks and 2 steals. He even made eight of his 13 free throw attempts. Frustration kicked in a few times which will probably conclude in a couple missed games to start next season but he unquestionably left it all on the floor.
- Corey Brewer finally made his presence felt. He scored 16 points off the bench and as the game seemed to escape the Rockets in the fourth, he continued to battle as he always does. Brewer has seen what this team could do with a handicapped roster so hopefully he returns next season as he is officially an unrestricted free agent.
There wasn’t much more on the positive side for Houston. But there were a compilation of mishaps that hindered their comeback. Here’s the four largest negative impacts to the outcome of this game.
- The most grueling stat that I’m sure no one saw coming (except maybe Lil B) was James Harden‘s record breaking 13 turnovers. I can’t even explain what tempted such carelessness. He seemed to be out of character for the majority of the game. Tonight should not redefine how great a player he is but his lack of production and negligence was immense to the loss. Give a mass amount of credit to the Warriors defense though. I’ve never seen Harden this flustered. But, as you can see his awareness and focus seemed to be absent.
- Harrison Barnes had his coming out party in the most crucial quarter and single-handedly kept Houston at arms length. In the last 9:30 of the fourth quarter, he went 5-8 from the field and scored 13 points. Houston could not manufacture an answer for him. The Rockets were only down six points to start the fourth quarter but by the time Barnes scored his 13th point, the lead had doubled. He was the MVP of this game, especially after this exclamation point.
- Aggregating Harden’s turnovers with the Rockets’ poor field goal percentage could only call for a disastrous result. Houston shot 35 percent from the field.
- The icing on the cake in addition to their frightening shooting efficiency and poor ball management is the 19 offensive rebounds (12 in the first half) they allowed. If you mix those three elements together, the product created is 17 more shot attempts from the Warriors. I’m not a mathematician but if you allow the league’s number one team in the league 17 more tries at scoring, I don’t think your odds at winning are very good. Especially since that team loves shooting threes.
Regardless of tonight’s end result, the Houston Rockets had a wonderful season. They made it to the Western Conference Finals without two key pieces and still gave the NBA’s best team a dog fight. The Rockets showed great heart. Stayed tuned this offseason as we will continue to cover free agency, the draft and more!
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