In the closing seconds of another tight game between the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors, Houston made a stop with a chance to tie their Western Conference Final series at 1-1, instead, they got the most unimaginable scenario possible.
After blowing a 16-point lead in the second quarter, was the top-seeded Warriors about to cede home court to the upstart Rockets? Not on Steph Curry’s watch. With the bearded NBA MVP runner-up flying down the court with 8.3 seconds left and one timeout in their pocket.
Instead of calling a timeout and a chance to run a set play for a possible win, Harden instead passed it to Dwight Howard only to be tied up by both Curry and Klay Thompson in the final seconds, losing the ball and losing another thriller at R-Oarcle Arena by one.
To lose a game in this manner, the way the Rockets did after stopping the league’s top-scoring offense in the final seconds, only to come up short again is morally demoralizing to say the least. Two days after losing by four, 110-106, Houston played perhaps their best game in rallying back from a double-digit hole on the road in perhaps the most hostile arena in the league says something about Houston’s character, but also shows that they cannot come through in the clutch.
While Harden out-dueled Curry 38-33, for Houston, it was the last possible last two points that he never got that turned out to be the difference.
Did Harden blow it for Houston? That’s hard to argue, but the Rockets failing to call a timeout, and Harden allowing himself to get trapped in the last seconds, is not the way Houston envisioned being down 0-2.
Now they must regroup back in Space City for Game 3 and find a way to beat a team in the Warriors that has beaten them six times this season, counting the post-season, or risk seeing their season end up being entangled permanently.