Monday, January 25, 2021

Rockets Outlast Warriors, Take 3-2 Lead

Golden State Warriors 94 - 98 Houston Rockets

In another game that came down the the wire, the Rockets outlast the Warriors for a 98-94 victory. Coming down to the final possession, the Warriors just couldn’t hold onto the ball, the story of the night. Eric Gordon came off the bench and led the Rockets with 24 points. Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 29. Game 6 and the Rockets chance to advance

Not so Golden.

Still missing Iguodala, it was a sloppy game for the Warriors. Finishing with 18 turnovers, it was almost the sole reason they lost. With all the stars scoring, it was a game tailor made for a Warriors win. Tied at half, despite the Warriors just giving the ball to Houston on multiple possessions, they were set up for a patented 3rd quarter surge. The Rockets weren’t an offensive juggernaut tonight, but the Warriors just couldn’t pull away. Leading by 1 going into the 4th, the Warriors just couldn’t get anything to fall their way as the game slipped away from them.

Draymond had a terrible last 30 seconds. A great pass that was fumbled by Cook, turned into a missed shot. Green then missed a rebound and then fouled Ariza to allow the Rockets to take the a 2 point lead. Ariza missed the second free throw, Green grabbed it, but then passed it instead of  calling timeout. Then the moment that will hangover him if they lose this series. With 6.7 seconds left, down two, the Warriors took the ball out in the backcourt. Curry pushes it up, as he is double-teamed. He kicks it over the a sprinting Green, who takes his eye off the ball, kicking it to the Rockets, sealing the loss.

The Warriors stars did come to play tonight. Durant led with 29 points, Thompson with 23 and Curry with 22. It wasn’t all bad for Draymond as he finished with a double-double, but his 6 turnovers really hurt the team, especially the last one. The rest of the team chipped in a total 8 points. It was a very un-Warriors like performance.

Turnovers really killed the Warriors tonight. The bench didn’t help, but if only 2 or 3 of those turnovers didn’t happen it could have been a complete different story. This is the first time they have lost back to back games in the postseason since 2016, it might be time to panic. Facing elimination, they need to clean up the sloppy play if they want to advance to a 4th straight finals.

Gordon surges, Harden struggles

The Rockets shot a lot of threes, and missed a lot, but they were saved by Eric Gordon and free throws. Shooting 27 for 32 from the line, it was a crucial part of the victory. Gordon was huge in game 5 as he stepped into Harden’s role as he uncharacteristically shot terrible. Going 0 for 11 from deep, he was most effective at getting to the line. Gordon led the team with 24 points. Paul chipped in 20 points, and Harden added 19.

The Rockets having an early lead, the Warriors fought back to tie it at half. They kept control in the 3rd and take a lead into the 4th. Chris Paul really turned it on, hitting 2 huge fallaway threes over a defender to buoy the Rockets. Gordon hit a big 3 off an assist from Harden to put the Rockets up 95-92. But when it mattered, the Rockets defense stepped up huge. Forcing 18 total turnovers on the night, they made the Warriors offense uncomfortable. Getting them to throw bad passes and be loose with the ball ultimately won them the game.

Harden having a terrible game and Paul coming out flat, could have cost the Rockets. But, the rest of the team held it together until the duo put something together in the second half. Paul did leave the game late in the 4th, and team doctors have confirmed a hamstring injury. Look out for his availability going into game 6.

Having the 3-2 lead, it wouldn’t surprise me if they came out flat in game 6. Having game 7 at home, they could become complacent with going to a final game. Paul will want to win to exorcise the playoff demons, but using only a 7 man rotation has me leaning on a down and tired team for game 6.

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