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NBA playoff scores 2016: Rockets wave the white flag as Warriors finish off series

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Houston's season-ending butt-kicking and a monster road win for Charlotte highlight the action from Wednesday night in the NBA playoffs.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets claimed they were ready for Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors, but their effort told a much different story in a 114-81 loss that closes the book on their season. Despite 35 points from James Harden, the rest of the Rockets coasted to the finish line as the Warriors completed off their 4-1 series win without Stephen Curry.

Houston concluded the 2015-16 season much like it started it, unable to turn its substantial talent into any kind of meaningful success. A first-round matchup against the Warriors was always going to be a daunting task, and right from the start in this series, the Rockets seemed to recognize how much the odds were stacked against them. The result was an uneven performance largely carried by Harden's brilliance as a scorer.

That was especially the case in Game 5, where Harden scored 14 of the team's first 16 points. Late in the first quarter, Harden was shooting 6-of-7 from the field while his teammates were a combined 0-of-13. It's been that kind of series for the Rockets, who would've gotten swept if it weren't for Harden's heroics in Game 3. His teammates responded to that game-winner without a ton of enthusiasm, which in retrospect was an indicator of how the remaining games would go.

Other than Harden, nobody showed up for Houston. Jason Terry, who offered up a tepid guarantee of sorts before the game, had zero points on 0-of-7 shooting in 22 minutes. Dwight Howard grabbed 21 rebounds in 45 minutes, but scored just eight points on 3-of-13 shooting. He finished the game by launching up a random three-pointer, which would be a very Dwight Howard way for him to end his career in Houston.

Overall, the non-Harden Rockets shot a combined 26 percent from the field.

It was an easy win for the Warriors, who presumably are more focused on Curry's health than anything going forward. Golden State had little trouble dispatching Houston despite being shorthanded at times in this series, but it likely won't be so fortunate against superior opponents. You know the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder are monitoring that situation closely as the top contenders beside the Warriors in the Western Conference.

The Rockets, meanwhile, get ready for a potentially major offseason with Howard likely to hit the open market and restricted free agents Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas adding to the uncertainty. This season was nothing short of a disappointment for the Rockets, but they still have a legit star in Harden and, even amid this season's chaos, made the playoffs. Now the question is how to re-tool around Harden to avoid wasting his prime years.

Golden State will play the winner of the Clippers-Blazers series in the next round. Now that LA is besieged by injuries, the Warriors are likely feeling pretty confident about their chances for another stress-free series regardless of who they face.

2 other things

The Hornets have a chance to close out at home

Charlotte hasn't made it out of the first round since 2002 when a team led by point guard Baron Davis advanced to the second round before being eliminated by the Nets. The next year, that franchise was playing in New Orleans and while Charlotte got its new NBA franchise in 2004, postseason success has been elusive in the city.

Now the Hornets have a chance to reach the conference semifinals for the first time in over a decade after beating the Heat, 90-88, on Wednesday. Charlotte has won three straight games to take a 3-2 lead in the series and will get an opportunity to close out at home on Friday. Another stellar defensive effort led the way for the Hornets in Game 5 and now they're on the brink of making some history.

The building should be bumping in Charlotte for Game 6 as fans get a chance to see their team potentially advance. It might not be welcomed news for Crying Jordan meme fans, but the Hornets advancing would a great story.

The shorthanded Clippers might be done

We knew that Los Angeles was screwed once Chris Paul went down with an injury. Now the Clippers are one game away from being eliminated after the Blazers' 108-98 win in Game 5 on Wednesday. Portland leads the series, 3-2, and will get a chance to close out at home in Game 6.

The Clippers' championship dreams blew up in smoke over the past few days with the injuries to Paul and Blake Griffin. The team was favored over a young Portland squad heading into the series and seemed destined for a second-round date with Golden State. Instead, Paul underwent surgery Wednesday morning to repair a right hand fracture, Griffin aggravated his left quadriceps injury and the undermanned Clippers couldn't replace them.

C.J. McCollum (27 points) and Damian Lillard (22 points) outplayed LA's makeshift backcourt, which saw Jamal Crawford play 44 minutes and Austin Rivers play 37. J.J. Redick led the team with 19 points in 34 minutes.

The Clippers will have to try to salvage things on the road in Game 6, but it's not looking great.

Play of the night

Don't turn your back on DeAndre. Or, well, if you do, you should probably just stay looking away and avoid the horror.

3 fun things

Justise Winslow loved a Dwyane Wade layup so much he just had to dance

It's not the playoffs, but Nick Young owes Iggy Azalea for saving him from this tattoo

Wade can still throw it down, too

Scores

Hornets 90, Heat 88 (At The Hive recap | Hot Hot Hoops recap)

Blazers 108, Clippers 98 (Blazer's Edge recapClips Nation recap)

Warriors 114, Rockets 81 (Golden State Of Mind recapThe Dream Shake recap)

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Not So Secret Weapon: Nobody can stop the Warriors' deadliest play

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