BY: Lachard Binkley
The Houston Rockets did not want to have to play in a game 7. After their crushing lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in game 6 it all came down to last night game. In game 7s you never know what can happen and in this game almost everything possible did happen.
From horrible calls to unexpected career highs from rookies, this game had everything. The Houston Rockets however came out with one of the biggest wins in a few years to move on to the second round to face the LA Lakers. Here are the three reasons why the Rockets sent OKC packing.
Role players stepped up for the Houston Rockets
James Harden had carried the Rockets through the first six games averaging over 30 points a game. Even though Russell Westbrook struggled last game it was a matter of time before he came up big. The question as it has been for years is would Harden get enough help from the role players.
Last night that answer was yes as players like Eric Gordon, Robert Covington, and Jeff Green came up with huge games. The trio combined for 55 points on 18-33 shooting. Gordon shooting especially was a big boost for the Rockets. Gordon was in the midst of the worst shooting slump of his career. Gordon shot 5-9 from 3-point range finishing with a huge 21 points.
Covington who also struggled from deep earlier in the series has had two great games in a row and shot 6-11 from downtown. Green finish with 13 points off the bench providing a needed spark as the Rockets only went eight deep into the rotation.
Defense Defense Defense
The Rockets have had one of the best defenses in the playoffs coming into game 7. It didn’t look like that would hold true as the Thunder could not miss from deep earlier in the game. Lou Dort was unconscious from deep, especially in the first half. So how was defense one of the keys to victory?
Because the Rockets forced 21 turnovers and held the Thunder to only three field goals in the last 8 MINUTES. The Rockets defense held the Thunder to 7-21 shooting in the fourth quarter and made the two biggest plays of the year with less than 10 seconds left in the game. Harden huge block on Dort and Westbrook knocking the inbound pass away to secure the win.
The Houston Rockets were the clutch team
Throughout this series, the media has lauded at how the Thunder was the most clutch team in the league. Chris Paul even made it a point to let everyone know how clutch he was after game 6. In-game 7 though the Rockets were the clutch team, not the Thunder.
The Rockets held the Thunder to 20 percent shooting. blocked three shots and forced four turnovers in the clutch in yesterday’s win. Paul missed a 6 ft. floater in the last minute, Harden and Westbrook came up with clutch defensive stops to move the Rockets on to the second round.
The Rockets move on to face the LA Lakers a team they beat two out of 3 games the last two with their small-ball lineup. Rockets and Lakers Friday night at 8 PM CT.
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