The Rockets lost to the Golden State Warriors 104-100 in Oakland Sunday afternoon in game one of the Western Conference Semifinals. The game was not without controversy. Chris Paul was thrown out in the final seconds of the game after picking up his second technical foul and Coach Mike D'Antoni said officials admitted to him they missed calls in the first half that could have led to more Rockets free throws.
In truth, the Rockets shot poorly and the official officiated poorly, not a great combination when you are on the road against the defending champs. It all adds up to a game one loss in this best-of-seven series. Here are a few thoughts.
Gordon continued his outstanding play in the postseason with 27 points on 10-19 shooting. He has been the key to the Rockets success so far in the playoffs. His shooting and his perimeter defense has been stellar. They will need more of that in game two.
No doubt Durant heard the chants of M-V-P from the Oracle Arena crowd and thought, "Without Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, I'd be MVP every damn year." He finished with 35 points, matching James Harden, on 11-25 shooting. Down the stretch in the fourth quarter, they went to him again and again and he delivered.
People love to believe that the fix is in when it comes to officiating in every sport. On Sunday, Twitter was rife with those who believe the NBA desperately wants another Warriors title. The refs didn't help the NBA's cause. More on that in a moment.
The Woman in the Jumpsuit that Looked Like Curtains
She was fabulous even if that pattern is distinctly '70s.
Rockets Front court
Clint Capela and P.J. Tucker combined for 4 points and 9 rebounds. That is not nearly good enough.
Switching Defense Down the Stretch
With the Rockets down two in the waning moments of the game, D'Antoni inserted Nene for rebounding purposes. On the next possession, the Warriors took advantage isolating Curry on Nene for what became a dagger three pointer. Tough substitution in a critical part of the game.
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The Rockets single biggest weakness all season long has been their rebounding. Outside of Capela, they aren't a big team and it has show. On Sunday, the Warriors, another relatively small team, outpaced them on the boards 38-26 including 8-3 on the offensive glass, several of which were in crunch time, an absolute killer.
A couple years back, in response to complaints from players, the NBA instituted a new rule that did not allow players to be in the landing space of a player during a jumpshot. They have called it consistently for two seasons and, for the Rockets, it affords them the opportunity to take three pointers without coming down on a player an injuring an ankle. On Sunday, it was as if the league had gone back to the days before the rule, at least for the Rockets. There is no question the officiating was bad on both sides, but the impact on the Rockets was decidedly greater, something that was noted on Twitter by current players, coaches and even Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks.