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James Harden had 32 points in game six, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Warriors routed the Rockets 115-86.
James Harden had 32 points in game six, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Warriors routed the Rockets 115-86.
Photo by Eric Sauseda

Rockets Routed by Warriors to Set Up Game 7: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

The Golden State Warriors, facing a rare elimination game, rallied after a sluggish first half to bury the Rockets 115-86 and send the Western Conference Finals to a decisive game seven on Monday. The Rockets were without Chris Paul who missed the game after injuring his hamstring in the fourth quarter of game six. There is no word yet on whether he will play in game 7.

The Rockets led the Warriors by as much as 17 in the first half, but were outscored 64-25 in the second half. The Warriors are one of the best third quarter teams in the NBA and they came out from a 10-point halftime deficit and turned it into a 7-point advantage. From there, they rolled over the short-handed Rockets.

The series returns to Houston for the final game of the series on Memorial Day.

4. Not turning the ball over.

In every game in this series, the team with the fewest turnovers has won. The Rockets had 21 on Saturday night to only 12 for the Warriors. And many of the Rockets turnovers were unforced. Tough to win against a good team like the Warriors when you give the ball away.

3. Houston sports Saturday night.

Although there isn't any correlation between Rockets and Astros wins and losses during the NBA playoffs, there have been times when it sure feels like it. On Saturday when the Rockets were being blown out in Oakland, the Astros were dropping a game to the Indians in Cleveland. On Monday during game seven, the Astros will be at Yankee Stadium.

2. Second halves.

The Rockets had 39 points in the first quarter of game six. They had 25 in the entire second half. It's an almost unbelievable statistic, but it actually happened.

1. Officiating.

Officiating was not to blame for the Rockets loss in game six. Let's just get that out there. But the number of ridiculous calls going for the home team, particularly in the third quarter when the game began to get out of hand, was pretty remarkable. Officials are certainly affected by the crowds and that appeared to be the case Saturday night. Hopefully, the Rockets will get some of the benefit of that on Monday.

Winners:

4. Game seven conspiracy theorists.

When the officiating started to get weird in the third quarter, the typical game seven conspiracy theorists began to come out on Twitter. This legend says that the NBA rigs playoff series so they will go to game seven, thereby earning them more money. The only problem is that game sevens in the conference and NBA finals are not common. It has only happened nine times in the last decade and this is the first season since 1979 that both conference finals have gone to game seven. It sounds like a good idea, the NBA forcing long playoff series, except it just isn't true.

3. First half Eric Gordon.

Whatever happened to EG3 in the second half, he was lights out in the first, hitting threes and getting to the basket. Gordon was excellent in Chris Paul's absence this season and that continued into the playoffs. Unfortunately, for as good as he was in the first half, he was shut down in the second, but so were all the Rockets not named James Harden.

2. The law of diminishing returns.

The Rockets scored 39, 22, 16 and 9 points in each of the four quarters of game six. That's one of the more ridiculous quarter-by-quarter box scores you'll ever see and it underscores just how good the Warriors were in the second half...and how bad the Rockets were as well.

1. Game seven in the Western Conference Finals at home.

If at any point of the season (or the summer before the season) anyone had said the Rockets would be at home for game seven against the Golden State Warriors for a chance to go to the NBA Finals, we would all have absolutely been happy to accept. And that is exactly where we find ourselves. Considering the ups and downs of this series and the mystique of the Warriors, it's about the best thing we can hope for.

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