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A live account of the season finale: Houston’s Rockets against the LA Lakers

  • 9:35PM CST: Bill Simmons just said “James Harden could have 55 points tonight…that’s how bad this Lakers team defends.”  I hope the guys bring it – the whole country is watching…though it would have been much more fun had Utah won (much less actually have shown up to play) making this game a must-win for the Lakers.  My prediction: Rockets by 10.  Take that with a grain of salt.  I predicted Lakers by 40 about an hour ago.
  • Great to see that Jeff Van Gundy will be calling this game.  And also great to see that he’s still a homer.  Called the Rockets “the favorite” in a potential Spurs series.  I actually agree.  But to say it on national television!
  • This is a must win.  This is literally a must win for the Rockets.  The distinction between playing San Antonio and playing a healthy Oklahoma City team is literally night and day

I’ll be updating this post throughout the night.  You can also follow my livecast of the game on @redninetyfour

  • 10: 28 left in the 1st: Harden starts the night out with a ‘3’ and then a trip to the line.  Impressions: he could go for 50.
  • Great call by whoever the other guy with JVG is: “the Howard trade the most talked about, the Harden trade the most impactful.”
  • JVG is befuddled right now as to why the Rockets continue double teaming Dwight Howard, who is being guarded by Omer Asik.  “Asik’s defense is better than Howard’s offense.”  The Lakers have now hit multiple open 3’s off these doubles, as I type this.
  • Rockets have left the Lakers in the dust tonight everytime they’ve tried to run.  The lead man on the break has been practically wide open on some of these plays.
  • Steve Blake still has nightmares about Aaron Brooks.
  • Inside of 2 minutes remaining in the 1st quarter now, what looked like it could become a Houston rout, at least in my mind, has turned into a Lakers lead.  L.A. has been pounding the ball inside, cleaning the offensive glass, and hitting open 3’s.  The Rockets halfcourt game has stagnated.  They have only been able to score off fastbreak opportunities – must rebound missed shots for those chances.
  • JVG making fun of Kobe Bryant’s dog right now.  “I expected a rottweiler.  My goodness.”
  • I think I actually like Francisco Garcia better than Carlos Delfino.  1. Because Garcia seems to play a bit more within his limitations.  2. Because Garcia can’t be played at power forward.
  • Harden drains a ‘3’ from straight away with some scrub in his face.  A lot of ISO ball so far tonight.  But it looks great on national TV.  Harden already with 12 points and 5 boards.  Still 1st quarter.
  • JVG: “He’ll be in the top 5 for the MVP this year.”  (Harden).
  • Terrence Jones has looked awful so far.
  • Holy.  Greg Smith just hit what amounted to some sort of running baby hook.  Really liking this guy’s repertoire.
  • Terrence Jones strikes me as the big kid who hasn’t yet realized his physical advantage against the smaller kids.  More on this later.  Much more on this.
  • JVG: “The hardest thing in coaching, without question, is coaching the star player in decline.”  Wonder how much of this applies to T-Mac in ’07.  At age 27.
  • Rockets go up 9 now.  Commercial break so I’m not sure how much time is left in the 2nd.  But this one looks like it’s in check.  *Knock on wood.*  LA just doesn’t seem to have any chance in hell of keeping up with Houston’s overall team speed and effort.
  • Pau Gasol just made Terrence Jones look like he was 6’3.  I have no idea why people insisted he was washed up.  Just needs to be used properly.
  • Asik just got blocked by the rim.  7 minutes remaining in the 2nd.
  • Lakers are living by the outside shot right now.  The likes of Steve Blake and such.  Houston on the other hand…I’m not sure what we’re doing.
  • JVG: “How can a team that won 38 games be allowed in the playoffs?”
  • Gatsby looks like it will be incredible.  Was one of my favorite books.
  • Harden barks at Asik downcourt after Asik fails to catch a horrible alleyoop pass.  This has become a common sight in Rockets games.  The irony, though, is that Asik would be just as justified in returning the favor at the other end after the multiple times he’s covered for The Beard’s lackadaisical efforts.  This has truly become an abusive relationship.
  • Even Asik’s dunks are hideous with the way he sort of hangs after the fact, off-balance.  God bless.
  • Houston heads into halftime up by 6.  Harden has 18 points and 7 rebounds; Dwight Howard has just 4 points – not quite what the Laker faithful were hoping for from the newly anointed savior.  Houston closed the half out pretty sloppily having had the chance to go up double digits but allowing the Lakers to get back in with some cheap mistakes.  Still, I’ll take a six point lead.  This one has the feel of the Rockets being in complete control, unless something goes completely wrong.  Our superstar (Harden) is rolling, and there’s (Howard) hasn’t gotten anything to go his way.  The Lakers are also living off of long distance shots.  And that Laker second unit…
  • Midway through the 3rd, Rockets up 10 now, and seem to be in control.  The crowd is completely out of it.
  • Jeremy Lin is the story that hasn’t been talked about this season.  After a November when he was brutal, coming off of knee surgery, and shot just 37% overall and 26% from downtown, he is now shooting 46% overall and 38% from downtown in April after a March in which he shot 48/40.
  • As the quarter comes to a close, the Rockets are up just 5, despite it feeling like they were in complete control.  I have a very nervous feeling about how this will end up.  But I just hope the Rockets don’t forego a valuable opportunity to face a wounded Spurs team.
  • Chandler Parsons has been on full display tonight, scoring in a variety of ways, from running the break to even creating in the lane.  Parsons always seems to save his best for the nationally televised.
  • Steve Blake hits a ‘3’ and with 6 minutes remaining, the Lakers take their first lead since the first quarter.  So frustrating.
  • As usual, I have no idea what Kevin McHale was doing with the lineups.  Lakers gained their momentum when he ran a lineup featuring Delfino at the ‘4’ against Gasol.  Lin has also been sitting this entire time after having his way with LA in the 3rd.  So, so frustrating.
  • BALLGAME.  Rockets lose.  Will face the Thunder.  Just absolutely unbelievable.  I’m so livid right now that it’d be in my best interests to take some time and gather my thoughts.  But screw it.  The Rockets choked away the lead and then, until and after a miraculous Chandler Parsons straightaway 3, inexplicably proceeded to go away from their set offense and resort to “hero-ball.”  I just literally have no words right now.  That offensive scheme down the stretch of the 4th quarter and overtime was a complete disgrace.  I don’t care who is to blame, whether it’s Harden or whether it’s McHale.  It was a disgrace.  Now, Houston will start the season in Oklahoma City.  Complete choke job, two years in a row.

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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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