Thrive on urgency, no excuses, FINISH
The Rockets recently lost a double-overtime game to the Spurs, which was marred by controversy. James Harden had a breakaway dunk disallowed although it was a clear-cut dunk that should’ve counted. So because the Rockets lost, they decide to protest to the NBA, who, to no one’s surprise, denied it stating the Rockets had multiple chances to overcome the error. The only good thing about this was the referees were disciplined.
Even as a Rockets fan, I have to agree with the NBA on this one. The Rockets did have a few chances to secure victory in both the regulation and in the overtime sessions. But the Spurs did enough to win the game with clutch shots.
Had the NBA decided to accept the Rockets’ protest, the result would’ve been swapped to the Rockets or the final 7:50 of the game would’ve been replayed. That wouldn’t have been fair to the Spurs, who managed to pull off a big comeback and make the big shots. Stealing a game from then that they won fair and square wouldn’t have been the right thing.
So while the Rockets have to take the loss, they are dealing with more than just pressure. It’s no secret that the Rockets are not on the best of terms with NBA fans. This protest just made the Rockets look bad, if not worse. But that’s more than what we can say about where they’re at. If one were brutally honest, the Rockets are on the same level as the Dodgers, the Falcons, and Kansas basketball as teams that put up great regular season stats but fail in the playoffs. The Rockets have had multiple chances to reach the NBA Finals, but have not gotten there.
A Chris Paul injury kept us out of the finals in 2018. But in 2019, the Rockets put themselves in a bad spot when they lost a key final game in the regular season that made them finish fourth in the Western Conference instead of second. That meant a second-round matchup with the Warriors, who despite having a 2-0 lead evened up, would finish the job in six.
Right now, the Rockets occupy the top scorer in Harden, who is getting the same treatment as Wilt Chamberlain did during his years of scoring with no titles. It’s frustrating for naysayers, including the best sidekick Hall of Famer in NBA history named Scottie Pippen, to discredit Harden’s achievements. But in a way, they’re right. All it’s done has led to no trips to the NBA Finals.
To make matters tougher on the franchise, the Rockets’ continued to swap out key players as Dwight Howard, Paul, and Carmelo Anthony couldn’t get the Rockets over the hump. Now, with Russell Westbrook at the helm, Houston is pending their title hopes on a former OKC Thunder pairing of Westbrook and James Harden. The chances of a Rockets’ title are slipping away as other teams like the Lakers, Bucks, Mavericks, Nuggets, and Raptors are on the horizon.
If Clutch City needs to be reborn, the Rockets have to put aside whatever problems go against them and just keep playing. Oh, and for the record, they need to finish every chance they get to win the game.