Posted on May 12, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The stage was set for the Houston Rockets. They could not have asked for a better scenario heading into Game Six of their Western Conference Semifinals series against the San Antonio Spurs. They were playing a team that was down its top two scorers, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard (due to the ankle injury suffered in Game Five), and they were playing at home.
Next to being spotted 40 points to start the game, the situation couldn’t have been any better for the Houston Rockets. To screw this up—well, there is no way they could, right?
But they did.
When James Harden didn’t even attempt a shot in the first quarter, it was clear the night was not going to go well for Houston. The Rockets kept it close in the first despite Harden, but San Antonio managed to get out to a seven-point lead, 31-24, by time the period ended.
Then it got ugly.
A 19-5 run by the Spurs made the score 50-29 with 6:37 left to play in the half. By the time the period mercifully came to an end, the Rockets were down 19 points, 61-42. The largest halftime deficit they had previously overcome this season was 17.
Needless to say–it didn’t look good.
It didn’t get too much worse in the third quarter, but entering the final period the Spurs held a pretty commanding lead, 87-64. Then it got real ugly.
Houston made four baskets and a single free throw in the final period for just 11 points giving them a total of 75 for Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals. San Antonio tacked on another 27 to make the final score, 114-75, Spurs.
The 39-point margin of victory is tied for third largest loss at home by a team facing elimination in NBA history. Teams facing elimination at home have not fared well at all this postseason (0-10).
It was a pretty bad way for an otherwise great season to end for the Houston Rockets. But when your superstar, MVP-candidate has more turnovers (5) than shots (2) at halftime, what can you expect? Harden ended up fouling out late in the fourth quarter with just 10 points (2-11 from the floor; 2-9 from three-point range), three rebounds, seven assists, and six turnovers.
San Antonio, on the other hand, fared quite well with its superstar, Kawhi Leonard, on the bench with an injury. Jonathon Simmons got the start and chipped in 18 points in 31 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge stepped up to the plate to lead the charge for the Spurs. He had 16-points at halftime and ended the game with a season-high 34 points to go with 12 rebounds.
Five other players, including the other four starters, scored in double figures.
Kawhi Leonard is expected to play in Game One of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday (at 3:30 PM ET on ABC). San Antonio was 2-1 against Golden State during the regular season and is 5-5 against them over the last three seasons.