Last night, the Houston Rockets got more than a punch to the mouth. In fact, the Golden State Warriors absolutely embarrassed them in a Game 3 beatdown. By the end of the night, it would become the worst playoff loss in Rockets history. A 41-point gap would separate the two teams by the end, and there’s still Game 4 to be played in Oakland. Needless to say, Houston’s effort in Game 3 isn’t going to cut it. Head coach Mike D’Antoni understands that, of course. And following their Game 3 defeat, he would call out his squad. Per ESPN’s Tim McMahon:
“It’s just one thing led to another. Played soft, actually. I mean, you can’t do that with these guys. These guys are good,” D’Antoni says.
That’s putting it mildly, of course. But D’Antoni is exactly right. Now, the Rockets are the No. 1 seed for a reason. And they are one of the greatest regular season teams in NBA history. Heck, they were even able to dominate the Warriors to even the series back up at one apiece. But the Game 3 Warriors are a different beast. And if this is the beginning of what’s to come, the Rockets are in trouble. D’Antoni is right; his squad simply cannot play that way.
Now James Harden, superstar and likely NBA MVP this season, echoes D’Antoni’s message. After all, he would finish with a team-high of just 20 points. As he tells ESPN’s McMahon, that’s not nearly enough.
“[D’Antoni is] right. We weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be. We started off the game pretty solid, and then we let them gain some confidence to end the first quarter. But just defensively, they didn’t feel us, and it showed tonight.”
It was a complete reversal from Game 2, of course. And it wasn’t just Harden; Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker didn’t show up. In fact, Gordon and Tucker would combine for fewer points in Game 3 (17) than Tucker posted himself (22) in Game 2. Stephen Curry would find his shot; Clint Capela was able to gran only eight rebounds. Harden and Chris Paul combined to shoot just 12-of-32 from the field, combining for just 33 points.
Needless to say, the Rockets must gather themselves. And quickly. Otherwise, this series is going to get away from them in a hurry.