How discombobulating a series? The Oklahoman ran this at the top of page 1A on Monday:
Of course, the team was headed for the Toyota Center for Game Five, and as previously noted, there is no Game Six. But you’ve seen all this before: the Thunder grab a first-quarter lead, the Rockets take over in the second, and OKC spends the rest of the game trying to play catch-up. In this game, however, the Thunder actually managed to regain the lead in the third, and went into the fourth up by five. But we all know what happens in the fourth, and sure enough, it happened again tonight. (tl;dr: OKC missed twelve shots in a row.) The Rockets, when the chips are down, simply have been executing with more sheer skill, and if there’s an iconic image from this series, it’s a scene from the last minute: Andre Roberson missing a free throw, looking like he was going to miss the second one, and somehow hitting it. Figures, doesn’t it? Houston 105, Oklahoma City 99, that’s all she wrote, and if you had “Rockets in five,” come up and claim your prize. (Not me; I figured it would go six.)
I would have bet, however, that the last couple of points would be from James Harden at the charity stripe, and that’s the way it fell. The Beard hit 16 of 17 on his way to 34 points, and it’s scant comfort that he was even worse than Russell Westbrook from the three-point line: two out of 13. Russ hit five of 18. Those of us who thought these teams were jacking up too many treys feel vaguely vindicated. And Westbrook had exactly the line you’d expect on a night when the season grinds to a halt: 47 points, 11 rebounds, 9 (of course not 10) assists.
Oh, well. For now, at least, we’re Spurs (or conceivably Grizzlies) fans, and not just to beat the East either, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.