Houston Rockets vs. Warriors: The tale of two halves in Game 5

Houston Rockets guards Chris Paul and James Harden (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets guards Chris Paul and James Harden (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets had an opportunity to pounce on a unique situation but didn’t. What went into it? Here’s the tale of two halves in Game 5. Look.

The Houston Rockets surprisingly fell to the Golden State Warriors 104-99 after an industrious effort to take over the game down the stretch.  Now the team has an uphill battle to climb and now their backs are against the wall.

These aren’t your daddy’s 1994-95 Houston Rockets were they responded admirably whenever there was adversity, we’re talking about the 2018-19 Houston Rockets, where there’s absolute uncertainty over what we’re going to see tomorrow night at Toyota Center.

But a peculiar thing happened late in the third quarter.  The Houston Rockets were trailing by one point, 66-65 and Kevin Durant just nailed a fadeaway jumper with 2:11 left.  But just a few ticks later, Durant started hobbling as well as holding his right calf.

Many experts are fearing that he may have sustained an ACL tear but the Golden State Warriors have ruled it calf strain, likely pending further information, likely from an MRI that will make the results conclusive.

It was as if the air had been let out of Oracle Arena but the Warriors still remained resilient and were able to make adjustments with him out of the game.  We started to see vintage Draymond Green, banging down below and taking threes regularly, something we wouldn’t necessarily see if Durant were in the lineup alongside him.

The biggest issue was that the Houston Rockets didn’t pounce on such a unique opportunity to win Game 5.  It’s as if they wanted to hang around but I didn’t see a sense of urgency to win this game.  There certainly should have been.

With so much of their strategy keyed in on Durant, it’s as if they had to reboot their defensive program from the 2014-15 season, the days when it was just the Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Green as the headliners.

There apparently was an error because their efforts were fruitless against those guys that were dead set on defending their home court.

After an absolutely horrible first half where they trailed 57-43, Eric Gordon was 0-for-7 and the rest of the team shooting 23.8 percent outside of James Harden, it looked like this team wasn’t primed to what they were set out to do — steal Game 5 from the Warriors.

They were getting hammered on the boards, losing the battle 27-18 and the Warriors already had eight offensive rebounds.

So how did they do in the second half?  The Houston Rockets got more aggressive on the boards, narrowly losing the battle 42-39 for the game and only allowed four offensive rebounds thereafter.

Gordon eventually got going but it wasn’t quite enough as he ended with 19 points while shooting

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5-for-14 from the field and 3-for-10 from three.

Clint Capela had 14 rebounds to his credit but not much else as he allowed Kevon Looney to steal his lunch money, per se, in this game.  Looney was absolutely suffocating on Capela and there was nothing he could do about it.  Looney had nine rebounds in just 22 minutes of action so that says a lot of how much more dominant that he was.

I expect Capela to bounce back but that shouldn’t ever happen again.  Earn your $90 million big fella!

James Harden had only one field goal in the final 10 minutes of the game and Chris Paul was virtually a no-show when a great moment like this was in front of him.  Again, I expect a bounce-back for these guys but asking them to win two tough games in a row to take this series may be a bit much.

But this team has a lot better chance of taking down the Warriors if Durant is not available, which will be likely.

We’re about to see what this team is made of so let’s hope for the best.  I just expected to see more of an elongated effort through 48 minutes than I did last night.

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The Houston Rockets will shift back to Toyota Center for Game 6 tomorrow night with tip-off being at 8 p.m. CDT.  The game will be televised on ESPN and broadcast on NewsRadio 740 AM (KTRH) / La Ranchera 850 AM (KEYH) in Spanish.