Houston Rockets fans owe Jamal Crawford a big thank you after last night.
Yep, that’s right. By hitting a three with .2 seconds left in overtime, Jamal Crawford pushed the Los Angeles Clippers to a win over the Utah Jazz, and inadvertently kept the playoff hopes alive for the Houston Rockets.
Now, if the Rockets end up winning their last three games, Utah has to do so as well in order to play in the postseason. The only issue with that is that the Jazz are the unlucky bunch that has to play against Kobe Bryant in his last ever NBA game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the 20-year veteran turns it on for the very last time.
There are pros and cons to making the postseason, but I, for one, want to see Houston make it to the big dance.
Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web
To go more in depth into the tricky playoff situation, Bleacher Report’s Adam Formal outlined everything that has to take place for the Rockets to push back their fishing trip for at least a few days. There’s a good chance that things won’t be set in stone until the very last day of the regular season. Houston has been terribly disappointing this year, but there’s legitimate reason to continue to watch it all through the end.
But the Rockets do have experience. James Harden and Dwight Howard have both played in the final round of the playoffs during previous seasons, and the roster is littered with veteran contributors such as Trevor Ariza and Jason Terry who know how to avoid folding when the stakes are highest.
A fantastic battle looms before our very eyes, one made even more intense because the Jazz know they can’t afford to emerge with a tie…
Speaking of James Harden, he’s caught a lot of flack lately. In yesterday’s Daily Rocket Science, I featured an article ripping him apart and blaming him for nearly all of the Rockets’ struggles. However, Joshua Van Horn at Space City Scoop believes in the Beard and thinks he can be the center of a truly great team. His most recent article outlines a full defense of Harden and why he isn’t as deserving of blame as he’s made out to be.
As Harden demonstrates night in and night out, a single player can carry the load on offense. It’s not the ideal situation, but it is possible. On defense, it is a different story. A single player is incapable of stopping five guys. Solid defense is a team effort.
As the team’s leader, Harden deserves some of the blame, but I think it is unrealistic to assume that Harden could improve enough on defense that the entire team would do the same. It’s not that Harden is incapable of being a better defender; it’s that great defenses rely on more than a single player.
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James Harden isn’t the only player in the league who’s done his fair share of carrying his team’s load. Tomorrow’s matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers features a man who is no stranger to putting his team on his back. Kobe Bryant has been surrounded by great players at times, but has also suffered through seasons where he was tasked with supporting an entire offense night in and night out just like the Beard has done this season. Matt Young of the Houston Chronicle detailed some of Mamba’s best games against the Rockets in honor of the veteran’s last matchup with Red Nation.
Bryant played the Rockets 75 times in his 20-year career, going 47-28 against them and eliminating them from the playoffs twice.
Bryant recorded two of his 19 career triple-doubles against the Rockets and scored at least 30 points against them 25 different times.
I’m just as big a fan of Kobe as the next guy, but the Rockets must win tomorrow’s game, along with the other two remaining on their schedule. Not that making the playoffs would increase Houston’s likelihood of winning a title this year (there is a 0% chance Houston wins a title this year), but any good fan wants to see his or her team play postseason ball as often as possible.
Pressure’s back on Utah. If the Rockets win out, Utah has to win out to make the playoffs.
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) April 9, 2016
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