The Houston Roundball Review is an online basketball publication
by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
Rockets' season ends with 118-113 Game 6 loss to Golden State in Western Conference Semifinals
Posted: May 11, 2019 -- 10:02 a.m. CT
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- During the Houston Rockets' Media Day last October, owner Tilman Fertitta said "anything less than the Western Conference Finals would be a disappointment". Fast forward to May 10, 2019, as the Rockets' season ends in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals with a 118-113 loss to the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors win the series 4 games to 2 to advance the Western Conference Finals for the fifth consecutive season.
"We let a lot of opportunities slip away," James Harden said. "Opportunities in the last game, opportunities in game one and two. If you don't take advantage of the opportunities, you end up on the losing side."
Golden State has eliminated Houston from the playoffs in four of the past five seasons.
"This one's going to leave a mark," Mike D'Antoni said after the game. "This is not just something you get over with. I'm definitely not going to get over it in this press conference, or tomorrow, or the next night. This one hurts. We didn't play our best and to beat these guys you have to play your best. It’s like almost – in a boxing match, you have to knock the champion out, and we didn't knock them out."
The Warriors defeated the Rockets thanks to a sensational second half, especially the 4th quarter, from Warriors' guard Steph Curry. Curry had more fouls (3) than points (0) in the first half; but, he responded big time in the second half with 33 points -- including 23 in the fourth quarter.
Despite zero first half points from Curry, the game was tied at halftime at 57. Harden scored 19 in the opening half while Golden State's Klay Thompson picked up the slack for Curry with 21 first half points.
Curry scored 10 points in the third quarter; but, the Rockets outscored the Rockets 30-25 in the third to lead 87-82 after three quarters.
Chris Paul scored the first 2 points of the fourth quarter for an 89-82 Rockets' lead with 11 minutes remaining.
Then, a turning point in the game occurred: after Klay Thompson lost the ball, the Rockets had a 3 on 1 transition opportunity. PJ Tucker passed up an open three-point shot to set up the Rockets in the half court. After a few seconds, Gerald Green missed a jumper in the paint. Golden State guard Quinn Cook rebounded the miss; and, Andre Iguodala knocked down a three-point shot to cut Houston's lead to 89-85 with 10:22 remaining.
Instead of being up by 9 or 10 points, Houston led by 4.
Minutes later, Curry made a tough three-pointer to trim Houston's lead to 93-92 with 8:34 on the clock. Harden answered with a driving layup. Golden State's Shaun Livingston split two free throws before tying the game at 95 with a jumper. Harden put Houston on top with a 10-footer; but, Curry answered when he got a shooter's bounce on a floater.
Game tied at 97 with 6:31 on the clock.
Neither team scored for nearly 3 minutes; but, unsung hero for Golden State, Kevon Looney, scored a lay-up to give the Warriors a 99-97 lead with 3:42 remaining in the game. On Houston's next possession, Klay Thompson forced a jump ball while defending Eric Gordon. Golden State won the jump ball; and, Curry sank a three-point shot to put Golden State up 5 (102-97) with 3:09 remaining.
The two teams exchanged buckets. Curry continued answered each basket by the Rockets; but, after Harden scored a driving layup to pull Houston within 107-104, Golden State's famous ball movement and shot making delivered the knockout ball: Klay Thompson swished a three-point shot with 36.1 seconds remaining for a 110-104 Warriors' lead.
Houston refused to die; however, after Austin Rivers' three-point basket with 3.6 seconds left in the game pulled Houston within 116-113, Curry sank 2 foul shots to clinch the game and the series for the Warriors. Curry scored 18 of Golden State's last 23 points in the 6:31 of the fourth quarter.
James Harden scored a game-high 35 points. Chris Paul had his game of this postseason with 27 points and 11 rebounds. PJ Tucker added 15 points.
Curry's 33 points led the Warriors. Klay Thompson scored 27. Andre Iguodala added 17 points. Kevon Looney was big with 14 points and 5 boards in 20 minutes off the bench. Shaun Livingston scored 11.
"I'm upset," Gerald Green said after the game. "Just unexpected to go like this. Shocked. I don't think everybody in this locker room thought today was going to be our last game this season. So, (I'm) just a little bit disappointed."
"They made less mistakes," Austin Rivers commented. "They do not mess up a lot. They rarely make mistakes."
Chris Paul commented, "They just outplayed us. They played smarter than us, they made big plays when we didn't. Too many turnovers, they just beat us."
PJ Tucker summarized his emotions, "Disappointment, obviously. A lot of different emotions."
The Rockets lost despite scoring 113 points on 47.2% shooting which snapped a 13-game winning streak Houston had when scoring 110+ points in the playoffs. The Rockets had won 15 straight playoff games when shooting 47.0% or better entering tonight (dating back to 2014).
The Rockets lost despite outrebounding the Warriors 40-35. Houston entered tonight 4-0 when outrebounding the opposition this postseason after going 26-3 when doing so during the regular season.
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