The eighth-seeded Houston Rockets beat the 73-win Golden State Warriors in an actual NBA playoff game. It happened! It really happened! It went down thanks to one of the sillier end-games in recent playoff history.
With 14 seconds left, the Rockets managed to take a 95-94 lead. The ball was knocked out of bounds, and Houston had the ball under their own basket. J.B. Bickerstaff called a timeout to draw up a play for their biggest possession of the season thus far. This is what the Rockets got:
On a key play in a key game, the Rockets lobbed the ball over Michael Beasley's head straight into the hands of the Warriors. Golden State pushed the ball down the floor and Ian Clark scored to give Houston a 96-95 lead.
It kinda makes sense how this happened -- I'm guessing the Rockets have a baseline out-of-bounds play designed as a lob to their big man, but in this situation, they couldn't risk having sub-50 percent free throw shooters Dwight Howard, Clint Capela, or Josh Smith on the floor. So they went to Beasley, who isn't as tall or good at sealing space. And the game turned from a Warriors lead to a Rockets lead.
Now the Rockets had the ball down one with 10 seconds left. They had no timeouts left, so they couldn't draw up a play this time. James Harden came down the floor, stopped, sending Andre Iguodala flying, and drilled a pull-up jumper to give Houston a 97-96 lead.
That left the Warriors with the ball and two seconds left. If Stephen Curry was healthy, he probably gets the ball in this scenario. But Curry wasn't, so Draymond Green got the ball 35 feet from the hoop. He took his eye off the inbound pass and booted it out of bounds.
With one second left, the Rockets inbound the ball... and aallllmoooooost give the ball to Shaun Livingston with an uncontested lane to the basket:
The Rockets had two critical inbounds passes out of timeouts in the final 15 seconds, and one turned into a Warriors layup and the other almost did. Rockets win! Rockets win! 97-96!
To recap, here's what it took for the Rockets to get a playoff win against these Warriors:
-- Home court advantage
-- Steph Curry, the best basketball player in the NBA and a historically great shooter, sat out with a tweaked ankle for the second straight game
-- Klay Thompson, who made more three-pointers this season than anybody besides Curry has ever hit in a season, went 0-for-7 from three
-- James Harden had an incredible game, 35 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds, significantly better than his performance in games 1 and 2
-- Dwight Howard and Donatas Motiejunas both had double-doubles, with Howard looking like a functional basketball player for the first time all series
And with all that, they won by one point. Never let it be said the 2015-16 Rockets didn't win a playoff game, but considering how many unlikely things it took for it to happen, don't be surprised if it doesn't happen again.
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Not So Secret Weapon: Nobody can stop the Warriors' deadliest play
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