The San Antonio Spurs announced that Kawhi Leonard would not be playing in Game 6 against the Houston Rockets. He’s out with a left ankle injury. Tony Parker was the other big name out for the Spurs, so the team needed everyone to step up in this game. Parker is out for the entirety of the playoffs, but Leonard was only announced as out for this game.
In the first quarter, the Spurs outscored the Rockets 31-24. The Spurs had a 9-point lead at one point in the quarter, but they kept up the strong play to keep their lead to end the quarter. The Spurs worked the paint and didn’t shoot too many threes. LaMarcus Aldridge stepped up and provided the team with 10 points in the first quarter.
A 7-point lead isn’t much in the NBA, but the Spurs were up by 21 about halfway through the second quarter. It wasn’t that they were even playing at a fast pace and the Rockets couldn’t keep up. They were just making more of their shots and James Harden kept turning the ball over. He had four turnovers by midway through the second. Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson were both 0-4 from the field at that point, too. Despite being at home, things weren’t going so well for the Rockets. Harden even missed two free throws in a row. When things aren’t going your way on offense, teams need to pick things up on the defensive end, but the Rockets weren’t doing that, either.
Harden and Manu Ginobili both finished the second quarter on the bench due to having three personal fouls each. The Rockets continued to turn the ball over, which helped give the Spurs their big lead. They finished the half up by 19 points, with the score being 61-42. Harden finished the quarter with 5 points, 5 turnovers, and 4 assists.
The Spurs jumped to a 28-point lead in the third as the Rockets still struggled to make shots. At that point, the crowd wasn’t even really into it either. Aldridge shot an airball and the crowd hardly reacted when normally they’d be chanting “airball.” Back-to-back threes gave the crowd a little more energy, though. The Rockets started to make some shots, but the Spurs held their lead. Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela were the main scorers for the Rockets and without Harden’s numbers, it was hard for them to keep up.
In the fourth quarter, the Spurs pushed the lead to 36 with just over four minutes left in the game. At this point, the Spurs took their starters out while some of the Rockets starters remained in the game. With only a few minutes left in the game, fans had already left and a good amount of seats within the view of the camera were empty. The crowd got into the game at times, but it really felt like they weren’t sticking behind their team once they were down double digits. The loyal fans who did stay, though, gave the starters a little standing ovation when they went out of the game with just over three minutes left.
Harden scored 5 points in each half, which is more than a lackluster performance from him. He virtually disappeared this game. With Leonard out for the Spurs, the Rockets should have been able to take at least some sort of advantage, especially on their home court. It’s a rough way to go out for the Rockets, who played well this season. The final score of the game was 114-75.
The San Antonio Spurs will go on to play the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Those will kick off on Sunday, May 14. The only remaining semifinal series now is the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards series.
[Featured Image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]