It’s official — your Houston Rockets have done what many pegged as unthinkable.
Yes, the Rockets are winners of a game in this series!
Many thought that we were going to just roll over and let the Golden State Warriors sweep us out the door but in the words of the outspoken journalist Rob Parker, “NO WAY, NO HOW.”
At the start of this game — I was in attendance last night at Toyota Center — my expectations for this team were quite low, they got their rears handed to them in both Game 1 and 2 so there was no indication that Game 3 would be the same.
But I noticed something a bit different right from the opening tip.
What was that?
The Rockets had a fire in them, the type of dog, panache and the right stuff that I hadn’t seen in quite some time.
This team was finally playing like it should have the entire season and it emanated pride which each and every possession that it undertook.
I’m not saying that they played a perfect game but they were doing things to the best of their ability to win the damn basketball game.
That’s ultimately all that I can ask.
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The Rockets weren’t necessarily knocking folk’s socks off with their shooting but it was timely enough to keep them ahead for the majority of the game.
Except for some cold spells late in the first half and down the stretch, the Rockets were able to shoot well enough to retain their leadership.
On the other the Warriors didn’t look like the team that had just completed the historical feat of winning 73 games in a season but a team without an identity and trying to figure out itself without their MVP in Stephen Curry.
It was almost if the typical character traits for each team had been juxtaposed and the Rockets were the team that knew what they were doing.
Don’t get me wrong, the Rockets were still slow to catch on to the Warriors’ rotations and they did allow some key offensive rebounds late in the game but their opponent was so ineffective, it was almost as if those two variables cancelled each other out.
The Warriors were horrid from behind-the-arc, going 6-for-25 for 24 percent and conjuring up only eight offensive rebounds.
Considering how successful they had been in previous two games with both attributes, the fact they weren’t flourishing became a boon for the Rockets.
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I’m also not necessarily saying that the Rockets’ defense was stellar but it was simply that the Warriors were ice-cold for most of the game and this certainly helped with the win.
I cannot say enough about the performance that Dwight Howard was able put together last night.
D12 became “Playoff Dwight” once again and played both ends of the floor like a champ.
Dwight immersed himself nicely into the Rockets schemes and was able to make the best out of not regularly getting the touches that he so covets.
He even got chippy with Andrew Bogut as they tussled in the paint which was nice to see.
Howard finished 13 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks.
Patrick Beverley played extremely hard and continues to play well — as he has done the whole series — committing to hard-nose defense and hitting timely threes when need.
He had 10 points, six rebounds while going 2-for-4 from three.
Donatas Motiejunas looked great by putting up 14 points and 13 rebounds and although his three key turnovers marred his performance a bit, it didn’t overshadow what his contributions were for this team last night.
I have to honestly say that he’s still knocking the rust off from being out so long but he’s doing the absolute best that he can and it was enough for last night.
Trevor Ariza had perhaps one of the worst games offensively — seven points, five rebounds, 3-for-12 FG, 1-for-6 from three — that I’ve ever seen but it was his stellar defense that made himself useful last night.
And James Harden — I can’t even begin to express the hell of a show he put on last night.
The Beard finally rose to the occasion in a playoff game and was damn fun to watch!
He capped off his 35-point, nine-assist, eight-rebound game with the go-ahead jumper to seal the Rockets glorious fate with 2.7 seconds left.
And just think, that shot probably wouldn’t have happened had J.B. Bickerstaff not been out of timeouts as the Warriors would’ve had time to set their defense up and key-in on Harden after the huddle.
Space City Scoop
But all’s well, ends well…
He was even actually playing some decent defense on the other end of floor as well.
But did anybody notice that Howard showed no emotion from the bench when Harden hit the jumper?
Either he was mad that he was on the bench down the stretch or that the relationship between he and Harden has become irreparable.
But anyway, after the Warriors brought in the ball on the ensuing possession, Draymond Green received it at the top of the key and committed the unthinkable turnover by dribbling the ball off his foot out-of-bounds, securing the Rockets’ 97-96 win!
And there you have it, a solid Rockets win for the books!
And now the Warriors have an important decision to make — if they know what’s good for them, they might want to insert Curry back into the lineup Sunday or they could risk this series being tied-up and that’s a dangerous, slippery-slope.
Giving a team like ours confidence could result in the same script being followed as last season catapulting us places that people never thought we’d go.
I’m just saying…
Let’s go steal another game Sunday — see you all then — go Rockets!