2. Harden overcomes illness against Clippers in 2015 playoffs
The 2014-15 season was year two of the Dwight Howard era in Houston, and the Rockets finished the season with the second seed in the Western Conference. Much of the season was played without D12, as he battled injuries, which caused him to miss a total of 41 games.
The Rockets relied on role players such as Donatas Motiejunas, Terrence Jones, and Josh Smith during Howard’s absence, and ultimately won 56 games that season. This was arguably one of Kevin McHale’s best coaching displays, and he finished with the sixth-most total points in the Coach of the Year voting results that year.
Howard returned in time for the playoffs, and the Rockets flew past the Dallas Mavericks within five games of the opening round of the playoffs. The Rockets advanced to face off against the LA Clippers in the second round, who were the third seed and had an identical 56-26 record as the Rockets.
But the Rockets struggled out the gates against the Clips, as they found themselves facing elimination much earlier than many expected. The Rockets were down 3-1 heading into Game 5 at home, and the situation would become much more bleak.
James Harden had the flu and had to get an IV on the morning of the game, which was the last thing the Houston Rockets needed. Prior to that point Harden had averaged 24.5 points and nine assists on 44.8 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from 3-point range, yet his efforts couldn’t prevent the Rockets from falling into a 3-1 hole.
So how exactly were the Rockets going to fare with The Beard having the bug? Just fine, as it turns out, because Harden was in his bag on that day. Harden scored 26 points, which were his second-most points of the series leading upto that game, and went 9-of-20 from the field.
Harden also added 10 assists, which was tied for a game-high, and completed the triple-double by nabbing 11 rebounds. Harden was determined to not allow the Rockets to get sent home early, as evidenced by the fact that he played nearly 43 minutes that day, which was also a game-high.
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