The Houston Rockets managed to edge out Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 7 of their series and advance to the West semifinals. Rockets would win this one 104-102.
This game was very intense, with the finish that saw James Harden playing defense, Danilo Gallinari missing a free-throw, a bad inbound pass which secured Houston’s win. A true playoff thriller.
“I’ve been around a long time and just at the end, it was a little crazy,” Houston’s coach Mike D’Antoni told the reporters.
At first, Harden blocked Luguentz Dort’s three-pointer, preventing what would be a two-point edge for the OKC. It was his redemption for posting a pretty poor offensive performance, during which he had just 17 points, shooting 4-for-15 from the field, three-pointers 1-for-9. The Beard had nine assists, two steals, and three blocks too.
“It was just one of those nights offensively, so I just wanted to change the game defensively. I think I did that,” he said, following the event.
Shortly after that block on Dort, Robert Covington went to the foul line and made one of his two shots. At that point, it was 104-102 for the Rockets. Harden would then foul Gallinari, with the ball still being out of play. The Italian got one free throw, and the inbound pass. Surprisingly he missed that one.
Russell Westbrook played under OKC head coach Billy Donovan for a long time, and he knows his system very well. Brody’s suggestions on how to defend that inbound pass might have solved the game. The Thunder couldn’t get the ball in the play properly, the Rockets stole it and got the victory.
The outcome was a great disappointment for the Thunder players, who came a long way this year. Nobody saw them in the playoffs, and yet, they were so close to advancing to the next stage. Chris Paul was the most emotional of all the guys in the blue.
“It’s a tough one. It’s tough,” Paul said. “We fought hard all year. Honestly, a lot of people doubted us, but we didn’t doubt ourselves. We didn’t give a damn about anybody’s predictions going into any series.”
CP3 called out the referees for several calls, particularly pointing towards Scott Foster. Paul, by the way, ended the night with a triple-double, 19 points, 12 assists and 11 boards, all in 40 minutes.
Dort had 30 buckets, with six threes scored, setting franchise records for an OKC rookie in the playoffs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also had 19 buckets with four assists, while Dennis Schroder delivered 12 off the bench with six rebounds and five assists.
With Harden on a cold stretch, other players in the Rockets had to step in and contribute offensively. Covington and Eric Gordon scored 21 points apiece. Covington had 10 rebounds, hitting six shots beyond the arc; Gordon had one fewer.
Westbrook had 20 buckets with nine rebounds, and much better than in the previous match once he ruined everything for the Rockets in the final few minutes.
Up next, Houston faces the Los Angeles Lakers who eliminated Portland Trail Blazers in their first-round series with 4-1. The LAL is the absolute favorites, but still, small-ball basketball, with high-intensity plays might make trouble for the purple and gold who depend on LeBron James and Anthony Davis too much. The two didn’t have a propper help in the recent few games, and against the Rockets that might cost them dearly.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.