It was another closely contested game, but the Houston Rockets were able to put away the Oklahoma City Thunder last night 105-99 and move on to the second round of the playoffs.
It was close because the Rockets had a nightmare shooting from three (6-37) and because Russell Westbrook was relentless in scoring 47 points. But the Rockets won because Westbrook couldn’t sustain his pace in the fourth quarter and because Lou Williams and Nene Hilario produced off the bench, especially early in the fourth when the Rockets blew by the Thunder and grabbed a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Rockets shot only 28 percent from three for the series, but still managed to win in five games, which is impressive given how reliant they have been on the three all season. That said, they will have to find their range if the want to advance further. They await the winner of Spurs-Grizzlies.
Speaking of which, the Spurs took a 3-2 lead with a 116-103 home win last night. All five of the games in this series have been won by the home team, and this time the Spurs did it with offense, shooting over 50 percent from the field and 14-28 from three while only turning the ball over seven times. They needed the efficiency, because the Grizzlies went 50-40-90 with only nine turnovers themselves.
As usual, the Spurs were led by Kawhi Leonard, who scored 28, but they also got a combined 30 points on 11-16 shooting from Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili off the bench. Manu’s ten were the first points he’s scored in the series, so it’s nice to see him back a little bit.
The Grizz got another fine performance from Mike Conley, who had 26 and six along with four steals, but not quite enough from the rest of the squad to keep up with the Spurs, who ran out to a big third quarter lead. Memphis was able to get close in the fourth, but another Spurs run over the last five minutes put them away. Game six will be back in Memphis on Thursday.
Finally last night the Jazz outlasted the Clippers in L.A. 96-92 to take a 3-2 series lead and give them the chance to finish it at home in game six.
I thought the absence of Blake Griffin really hurt the Clips in this one. The other power forwards on the roster—Marresse Speights and Brandon Bass—combined for three points in 17 minutes, and the Clippers were forced to play small a lot more, which hurt them on the boards. Chris Paul and J.J. Redick combined for 54 points, but other than DeAndre Jordan’s 14 and 12, they got very little else.
Meanwhile, Gordon Hayward was recovered from his food poisoning that limited him in game four and led six Jazz in double figures with an efficient 27-8-4. They also got 36 off the bench (compared to 16 by the Clippers), led by Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson who combined for 30. This one was close throughout, but the Jazz now have a chance to close it out at home on Friday night.
Today in History
1478: Giuliano D’Medici killed by Pazzi conspirators.
1514: Copernicus makes his first observations of Saturn.
1755: University open in Moscow; first in Russia.
1828: Russia declares war on Turkey in support of Greek independence.
1945: Marshal Petain arrested for treason.
1954: Nationwide testing of the Salk (polio) vaccine begins.
1982: Argentina surrenders to Britain in Falklands.
1986: Nuclear reactor at Chernobyl explodes.
1994: Voting opens in first multi-racial elections in South Africa.
2005: Syria withdraws last of its troops from Lebanon after nearly three decades.
Today’s Musical Birthday
Ma Rainey (born 1886, year and date disputed) died 1939. Mother of the Blues.