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Thanks for the ride, Houston Rockets

  • To begin, it was pretty disappointing to see how many people left the game before the final buzzer sounded.  By the 1 minute mark, 75% of the arena had emptied out.  On a Friday night, on the last game of the season, I thought it would have been a nice gesture to stick around until the end and give a show of appreciation to the team for exceeding all expectations, making the playoffs and almost forcing a Game 7.  But in Houston, it wasn’t to be.
  • From the get-go, it was deafening in Toyota Center.  For maybe the first time I can remember, everyone had already arrived before tipoff and was standing.  When Kendrick Perkins and Francisco Garcia had to be separated on what was pretty much the very first play of the game, it was enough for the capacity crowd to completely lose it.  Things stayed that way until the 4th.
  • Speaking of that incident, it’s amazing to think just how drastically the mental makeup of this team changed with the insertion of Beverley and Garcia into the lineup.  I know many of you will disagree, but I don’t think Houston would have pushed this thing to 6 without the change in attitude provided by these two men.  Talent prevails above everything, but sometimes, the opponent just has to know that you’re not backing down and will be delivering the first blow.
  • Unless he signs for the minimum, this was probably the last game for Francisco Garcia as a Houston Rocket.  Included as a throw-in to the Thomas Robinson trade, ‘Cisco provided one of the more memorable–certainly the most unexpected–playoff performances in Rockets history.  His leadership and gutsiness will sorely be missed.
  • I had to do a double-take when I saw Omer Asik get in Kevin Durant’s face.
  • What makes this loss so difficult to swallow is that it came at the contributions of the two most irritating Thunder players, Kevin Martin and Derek Fisher.
  • The Rockets lost this game because they didn’t have Carlos Delfino.  It’s as simple as that.  Once the wheels started sputtering in the fourth, the lack of that one extra rifle was clearly evident; they just didn’t have the firepower.  It sounds odd, but we really took him for granted this season.  Delfino, too, may have played his last game with the team if his salary slot is needed to bring in a bigger fish.
  • Jeremy Lin, again, was a non-factor, going 1-4 in his 13 minutes for an overall -18 contribution to the team.  Several of you tweeted at me correlating his performance with the loss, but I’m not sure that’s entirely fair.  Greg Smith, too, was a -16 and he shared the court with Lin.  But while Lin may not be solely to blame, he certainly didn’t give the team anything of any positive value tonight or at any point in this series.  Aside from his lack of individual contributions, the team just looked overall out of sync during his time on the floor.  After these playoffs, there will certainly be debate and ample time for it: Lin played pretty well in the regular season, but at $8 million, and with a pretty capable alternative signed at the league minimum, is he really the guy going forward?
  • The other main development of the night was that Chris Paul’s Clippers were also sent home early.  With the season over, the speculation can now begin.  If Paul and Howard want immortality, and their own Big 3, they can have it here in Houston, with James Harden.  But how badly do they want it?

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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.