Rockets lament missed chances after losing to Warriors

HOUSTON — The Houston Rockets were up by 14 in the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors when they started missing from 3-point range. They shot themselves all the way from prime position to advance to the NBA Finals to the end of a solid season.

James Harden was the first to miss. Eric Gordon soon bricked one, and P.J. Tucker did the same. It was miss after miss after miss as the cold streak stretched to nine by halftime. There were 14 more in the third quarter in a surprising performance for a team that relied on the 3 all season. By the time Tucker connected with about 6 1/2 minutes left, the Rockets had missed an NBA-record 27 straight 3-pointers and the Warriors were on their way to a 101-92 victory.

Though Gordon believes the result would have been different if Houston had Chris Paul for the last two games of the Western Conference finals, saying: “if he was out there, we’d have been playing on Thursday,” the rest of the Rockets agreed that even the nine-time All-Star probably couldn’t have changed things on a night their shooting was historically bad.

“It’s a grown man’s league,” Tucker said. “It doesn’t matter, next man up. You’ve got to play. You’ve got to win. It doesn’t matter who plays, step up.”

The Rockets led the NBA by making an average of 15.3 3-pointers on their way to a franchise-record 65 wins in their second year in coach Mike D’Antoni’s high-octane offence. They made it to the conference finals for the first time since 2015, but were unable to overcome their worst shooting game of the post-season.

Houston made just 7 of 44 attempts in Game 7 on Monday night. Trevor Ariza was 0 for 9. Harden missed his last 11 tries in a 2-for-13 night, and Gordon connected on just 2 of 12 attempts.

“The first half, just our energy defensively was different. That created more opportunities for the 3 and they went in,” Harden said. “As a result of that, we got a double-digit lead going into halftime. Those same opportunities were there in the second half, we just didn’t make them. They made tough shots. That’s it pretty much.”

It was a bitter end to a sweet year for Houston.

Harden turned in an MVP-calibre regular season to help the Rockets get the NBA’s top seed for the first time in franchise history. Many doubted that he would play well with Paul after the point guard was acquired in a trade with the Clippers. But the two meshed nicely and helped the Rockets to a 3-2 lead in the conference finals before Paul’s season ended with a hamstring injury in Game 5.

“They were devastated … we thought we were so close,” D’Antoni said. “We had it. We thought we had it. We had the first half … tip your hat to them, but at the same time guys gave everything they’ve got, so it’s normal to be devastated. I think they’re still proud of the work we did, but at the same time, it hurts.”

Now the Rockets have to figure out what it will take to get over the hump next year. They have some big decisions to make with Paul, Ariza and centre Clint Capela eligible for free agency. Some believe Houston could make a run at LeBron James if he chooses to leave Cleveland, but the Rockets would have to make a lot of changes to their roster to be able to afford him.

D’Antoni didn’t want to get into what he thinks general manager Daryl Morey should do with the roster to improve this off-season.

“It’s way too early. That’s Daryl’s department,” he said. “I love each guy. So it’s hard to even be objective, me to be objective. That’s the upstairs. That’s their job to be cold and objective, and do what they think is best for the team. Then once we get in the trenches, I’ll be happy with whoever we’ve got.”

But he knows the Warriors will continue to be the league’s benchmark and they’ll have to figure out a way to beat them if they hope to win a championship.

“Golden State has set the bar for the whole league, not just us. We know where we have to go,” he said. “We feel like we’re really close … so I’m obviously optimistic because of the guys we’re dealing with, and they’re winners. You keep knocking on the door, and they’ll eventually open.”

Just Posted

Parenting: Every woman will have a different pregnancy experience

Wife whose hormones are unbalanced can be unpleasant experience

Men posing as repo men attempt to steal vehicle in Red Deer County

Two men attempted to steal a utility vehicle from a Red Deer… Continue reading

Red Deerian spreads kindness with one card at a time

One Red Deerian wants to combat bullying by spreading kindness in the… Continue reading

Bowden baby in need of surgery

“Help for Alexis” Go Fund Me account

PHOTO: First Rider bus safety in Red Deer

Central Alberta students learned bus safety in the Notre Dame High School… Continue reading

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Woman has finger ripped off at West Edmonton Mall waterslide

SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan woman says she lost a finger after her… Continue reading

Uncertainty looms over Canada’s cannabis tourism, but ambitions are high

TORONTO — Longtime marijuana advocate Neev Tapiero is ready for the cannabis-driven… Continue reading

Feds mulling safeguards to prevent ‘surge’ of cheap steel imports into Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government extended an olive branch of sorts to… Continue reading

Ontario govt caps off summer session by passing bill to cut Toronto council size

TORONTO — The Ontario government passed a controversial bill to slash the… Continue reading

Updated:Italian bridge collapse sends cars plunging, killing 26

MILAN — A 51-year-old highway bridge in the Italian port city of… Continue reading

Saudi Arabia spat affecting Canadians embarking on hajj, community members say

TORONTO — Members of Canada’s Muslim community say recent tensions between Ottawa… Continue reading

Tug carrying up to 22,000 litres of fuel capsizes in Fraser River off Vancouver

VANCOUVER — The smell of diesel filled the air as crews worked… Continue reading

Nebraska executes first inmate using fentanyl

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska carried out its first execution in more than… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month