Rockets 100, Jazz 93 – Rockets win series 4-1
The Houston Rockets knocked off the Utah Jazz in five games on Wednesday night, led, as usual, by James Harden and his 26 points, six rebounds, six assists, three steals, four blocks and three 3-pointers. It wasn’t Harden’s greatest performance, as he hit just 10-of-26 shots and 3-of-12 3-pointers with five turnovers and five fouls, but it was enough to get the win and set up a date with either the Warriors or the Clippers in Round 2 (Warriors lead 3-2). Clint Capela added a 16 & 10 double-double with three blocks, Chris Paul (15 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 1 3-pointer) and Eric Gordon (15 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, a block and 3 3-pointers) both played well, and P.J. Tucker quietly filled the stat sheet with eight points, nine rebounds, one assist, one steal, four blocks and two 3-pointers on 2-of-7 shooting. Tucker turned out to be one of the DFS steals of the night. The Rockets bench was really quiet, as usual, and as long as everyone’s healthy, I wouldn’t mess with any of the Houston bench in fantasy right now. Harden is still likely headed for a showdown with the Warriors, and if nothing else, it should be really fun to watch.
The Jazz got really strong performances from new starter Jae Crowder (15 & 10 double-double), and regular starters Joe Ingles (11 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, three 3-pointers), Rudy Gobert (9 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Ricky Rubio (17 & 11 double-double with 3 steals and one 3-pointer). But budding superstar Donovan Mitchell never found his way in this one, hitting just 4-of-22 shots and missing all nine of his 3-pointers for just 12 points, six rebounds and five turnovers. Damian Lillard made more 3-pointers on Tuesday than Mitchell missed on Wednesday, and Mitchell missed nine of them. He’s going to have a long summer to think about this one, and I bet he comes back stronger than ever next season. But there’s no getting around the fact that this was one of the most disappointing elimination game losses for a team’s star in any playoffs I can remember.
Clippers 129, Warriors 121 – Warriors lead series 3-2, Game 6 Friday night @ LAC
This was a great game to watch, as the Clippers led by as many as 15, only to see the Warriors take the lead at 118-117 with just under three minutes remaining. That was their first lead since 50-49 in the first half, but Lou Williams went on a 9-0 run for the Clippers, helping LAC to an 8-0 run and a second straight win at Golden State. The Warriors just don’t lose two straight at home, so props to the Clippers and Doc Rivers for pulling off the unlikely feat. Game 6 is at Los Angeles on Friday night, and if the Clippers can take care of business at home, they’ll have a chance to steal the series if they can win Game 7 at Oracle. But I doubt I’m alone in thinking there’s no way the Warriors lose two more consecutive games and go fishing.
Lou Williams, the NBA’s all-time leader in bench points, finished with 33 points, four rebounds, 10 assists and a 3-pointer on 12-of-19 shooting off the pine. His incredible 9-point run late in the fourth quarter put the game away for the Clippers, and the only reason the Warriors caught up to take a brief one-point lead was that the Clips went away from Sweet Lou before his explosion. Danilo Gallinari came through with 26 points, seven boards and three 3-pointers, and Montrezl Harrell added 24 points, five rebounds, two assists and a block, hitting 11-of-14 shots off the bench. The Clippers bench outscored the Warriors 59-17, but then again, the Warriors don’t have a Lou Williams or Montrezl Harrell on their bench. Patrick Beverley was more than just a defensive pest tonight, racking up 17 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, a steal and five 3-pointers, while committing just one turnover on the night. He was awesome and helped carry many DFS teams. JaMychal Green was also nice with 15 points, four rebounds and three 3-pointers before fouling out in 27 minutes, which allowed Harrell to shine in the fourth quarter. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander disappeared after scoring 25 in Sunday’s Game 4, hitting 2-of-3 shots for six points, three rebounds and three assists in just 19 minutes. Lou Williams was the player of this game, with a tip of the cap to Beverley and Kevin Durant. They’ll need Williams, Beverley, Gallinari and Harrell to all step up again in Game 6, as well as Game 7 if it gets that far.
The Warriors got 45 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals, a block and five 3-pointers from Kevin Durant, who hit 14-of-26 shots on the night. Stephen Curry had 24 points, three rebounds, four assists, a block and four 3-pointers, and Klay Thompson added 22 points, three rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers, as every other Warrior scored in single digits. This is not a good look for the Warriors. They’ve lost DeMarcus Cousins for the rest of the playoffs, had a dysfunctional season that saw Draymond Green and Durant basically fight like angry brothers, and have now lost two straight games at home to a team they were looking to sweep. Again, I think all of us expect for the Warriors to put the Clippers away, either in Game 6 or Game 7, but they’re going to have to figure some things out if they’re going to cruise to the Finals and another championship. And something tells me they will.
Thursday features Denver @ San Antonio, with the Nuggets having a chance to wrap the series up on the road. And Friday gives us the Warriors at L.A., with GSW having a chance to finally close out the more-than-pesky Clippers.