Before we go any further, there’s something great to take away from this game. Tomorrow is another day, and new, amazing things can happen tomorrow. James Harden might work on his defense. Dwight Howard might take some instruction on his post moves from Houston Rockets head coach and post play superhero Kevin McHale. Chandler Parsons might engage in some unexpected show of support and solidarity with another terminally ill child. The future is still bright and sunny for this Houston Rockets team, and the future starts with tomorrow.
It’s important to remember all that, because today is a thunderstorm on an iceberg with a whirlpool under it. The Rockets were obliterated, crushed, atomized, decimated, slaughtered and nearly kicked down to the D-League by the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that’s been to the finals and is still mad about everything that happened since game two of that series in 2012. Would the Thunder currently be better if they had held onto James Harden? That quest is still going unanswered, because it’s impossible to think with Kevin Durant dunking on everyone as soon as they try to have a conversation. The Thunder are still the team to beat in this conference, and the Rockets probably didn’t even need to catch a plane back to Houston given how hard they got kicked in the rear.
Of course, there are reasons the Rockets lost. The biggest reason is that they had 31 fewer points, and when it comes down to it, points are an important stat in this league. The Rockets initially tried a strategy of avoiding points, but eventually went away from that gambit after 6:30 of scorelessness. It turned out to be less than a revolution, as they got behind by 11-0 before their first field goal, and the lead gradually grew from there. So that’s the main reason they failed. They didn’t get enough points.
Normally, points are achieved by shooting the basketball into the hoop, but that wasn’t a good option for the Rockets, who can’t shoot their way out of a paper bag with a water gun right now. Playing four games in five days, and eight games in twelve days makes for a grueling stretch. They shot 25% from three point range, 35% overall and 55% from the stripe. It was ugly. It’s been ugly for a week, and this was the ugliest yet. The Rockets may be in a brutal game-heavy period right now, but that’s temporary. Once the playoffs come around, rest isn’t an issue any more, right?
Unfortunately, Kevin Durant will still be Kevin Durant in May. His good boy image seems to be melting off his spidery frame lately. His “KD is not nice” ad campaign seems accurate , given how often he obliterated James Harden with vicious dunks. Durant took delight in slicing apart a team crippled by injuries and totally out of gas. All of this was obvious going into the game, but it didn’t make it any easier to watch. The Thunder are a high-power juggernaut that will go back to the finals if health allows. The Rockets, tonight, were the opposite of that.
Many players on both teams played basketball. The Thunder can look proudly on their box scores and feel a certain vindication. The Rockets’ box scores should not be looked at. No, don’t do that. Especially don’t look at James Harden’s line. The Rockets eventually gave up the ghost and just waited for the ride to end, and occasionally that’s the only thing that makes sense to do. Some games are a statement win or a wake-up call loss. Other games, however, are just a bad day to be forgotten quickly. This was one of those, and the faster the Rockets can forget with a big win, the better.