The Houston Rockets ended their miserable 2015-2016 season the same way they started it: with laughable effort, pathetic shooting, and a summary execution at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. Last season, the Rockets looked poised to be a serious force and a strong title contender if they could just take a step. What nobody guessed is that the step would be backwards, right off a cliff. There was nothing left to play for, no light at the end of the tunnel, and nothing left to root for except for an end to one of the most disappointing seasons in sports history.
Is there a point in talking about this game? James Harden racked up stats, but they didn’t matter. it took until the second quarter for any of his teammates to sink a field goal, and the game was already sealed at that point. There was so little fight that it made one wonder how they managed to struggle during game three and the first half of game four. Nobody could hit a shot, Dwight Howard kept posting up for no reason, and the two stars refused to play together for the good of the team. This wasn’t just the most likely outcome, it was the only possible outcome.
I had hoped they would put up their dukes a little, but they couldn’t even do that. The team looked even more fractured than ever, as though whatever strained ligaments that were holding it together during the season had finally stretched to the breaking point. There was only a deep exhaustion, and a surrender to what has always been inevitable. There was only Houston Rockets basketball.
The season was like one long bout of sleep paralysis, like being trapped in a bizarre world you can’t understand with no way to move or get away from the horrible hallucinations. It’s only fitting that they would be dispatched by the Golden State Warriors, once their rivals, once Houston’s inferior, now a shining example of everything the Rockets are not. The Warriors rallied around their fallen leader, fighting for him. The Rockets scurried away from their leaders and the tumult that followed them. There’s a sort of poetry to this train wreck of a season, but not the good stuff that inspires people to destroy oppressive regimes. This Rockets season was a fifteen-year-old at a local poetry slam reading some tritely nihilistic dreck at a pretentious weekly slam. It’s incredibly grim and kinda depressing, but ultimately just a waste of your time.
the Rockets now begin the grueling process of tearing down what had seemed to be a powerful edifice. That “interim” tag for head coach J.B. Bickerstaff is about to be activated, and he’ll soon be replaced, and once-and-future-king Jeff Van Gundy looks like a strong possibility. Dwight Howard can choose to terminate his contract early, and will likely lose out on millions for doing so, but would honestly be a fool not to bolt with the fastest speed possible.
There’ a new sort of hope around the corner, but for now, the most important thing is release. There are no more Rockets games this season. There are no more chances for them to embarrass themselves, at least on a basketball court. It’s over for now, and we can go back to seeing if the Warriors can stomp their way through the rest of the playoffs as we all thought they would.
We’ve earned the relief that comes with elimination, and we’ve earned the possibilities that come with the off-season. The Rockets are back to zero wins, and more importantly, zero losses until October. This year, that’s a welcome improvement. The NBA season is finally over for Houston. Goodbye, and good riddance.