Harden's great season for Rockets ends in embarrassing loss
- Author: Julie Sanders May 13, 2017,
May 13, 2017, 14:59
That simply was not the whole story in this one. Leonard is averaging 27.8 points on 52.4 percent shooting during the playoffs, while ranking in the top 20 percent of players for his ability to create offense by spotting up opponents, handling the ball on the pick and roll, in playing down low in the post and on the break in transition. The Spurs improved to 16-3 when taking a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series.
Harden took responsibility for the loss after the game, saying the Rockets never able to establish a rhythm. That same $100 bet on the Spurs would win $900. However, he had no answers as to what went so terribly wrong on Thursday night. In their first year with a new coach and a new supporting cast for Harden, the franchise won 55 games and was the clear-cut third-best team in the conference. "Demanded the ball, got in good position ... he was wonderful on the boards and of course he passes it really, really well and gets it moving for us".
San Antonio had faith in all of their guys and the game plan and stuck with it till the end.
Not only were the Spurs successful in preventing open threes, they positively barricaded the rim, too. Harden scored just 10 points, fouled out, and looked as bad as anyone has ever seen him. "Last night will be the topic of conversation for a few days, but I think outside of that, once people continue to talk they understand the amount of work that he put into the season, the history that he created, the position that he put us all in to be successful, so those are the things that I think about".
Offensively, the Spurs' performance was a throwback to a different era of basketball. They limited kick-out options to three-point shooters, and used the length of their big men to defend the rim. Both of those figures can be heavily attributed to LaMarcus Aldridge's ridiculously efficient 16 of 26 shooting performance that likely quieted a lot of his critics (for the night, at least). Without Leonard, the Spurs needed somebody to just get buckets, and Aldridge stepped up in a major way.
"If we give up offensive rebounds and they take more shots than us, it's going to be hard for us to win", Durant said. Aldridge was the linchpin, posting 34 points and 12 rebounds, but he had plenty of help as the Spurs set up a date opposite the Golden State Warriors.
When San Antonio shocked the Warriors 129-100 in the season opener way back on October 25, the reason was as clear as the backboard glass - the Spurs dominated the rebounding battle, and were particularly lethal grabbing offensive rebounds.