Posted on May 29, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The game plan for the Houston Rockets was pretty cut and dry this season. They were going to make it rain from behind the arc as much as possible. If they hit the shot—great. If they didn’t—rebound and shoot again. However, there is a potential problem for teams that may arise whenever you choose to live by the three. When the shots don’t fall, you can die by the three.
That is exactly what happened to the Houston Rockets in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals Monday night.
Things got off to a good start for the Rockets. Chris Paul was unable to go, but that news didn’t surprise anyone. At first, it didn’t look like they missed him too much. Houston made enough shots and played well enough on defense to take a 24-19 lead into the second quarter.
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When Eric Gordon hit a three-pointer with 6:43 to play in the second quarter, the Rocket led by 14-points, 42-28. Little did Houston know at the time, but that would be the last three-pointer made by one of the Rockets until the fourth quarter.
The Rockets led by 11 at the half, 54-43. But while Houston went ice cold in the third, someone else caught fire— Steph Curry. He led the way in the decisive third quarter by scoring 14 of the team’s 33 in the period.
After three, Golden State appeared to be in control even though the lead was just seven points, 76-69. But if they kept missing shots as they had been, it would be all the Warriors would need. Sure enough, Houston kept missing.
The Rockets ended up missing a postseason record 27 consecutive three-point attempts including 14 in the third quarter alone. P.J Tucker ended the drought with a three about halfway through the fourth quarter to bring Houston within ten points, 89-79.
Houston got within six-points during the final quarter. But they were unable to get any closer. Kevin Durant finished the game off with a pair of free throws to make the final score 101-92.
Kevin Durant ended up leading the way for the Warriors with 34 points (5-11 from three-point range) followed by Steph Curry with 27 (7-15) from three-point range. The Game Six hero, Klay Thompson had a quieter night this time with 19 points.
Houston got 32 points out of James Harden, 23 from Eric Gordon, and 20 from Clint Capela. But they didn’t get much more from the rest of the team. P.J. Tucker didn’t have a bad night with 14 points. However, Trevor Ariza put up a goose egg for the night (including 0-9 from three-point range).
Houston ended up hitting just seven of 42 three-point attempts. Golden State hit 16 of 39.
“It’s like they say, it’s a make or miss league. They made them, and we missed them,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said after the game (NBC Sports).
“It’s amazing how long the NBA game is,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game (NBC Sports). “Forty-eight minutes, it lasts a long time, and there’s so many opportunities to get yourself going as a team. And with our team, there’s just so much firepower; we’re going to get going.”
With the win, the Golden State Warriors lock up a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals. They will see a familiar foe when they get—the Cleveland Cavaliers. Game One will be Thursday night at 9 PM.