Rockets down 0-1 after 104-100 defeat

3-pointers from Rockets game one loss versus Golden State

James Harden.

Sunday afternoon the Houston Rockets took on the Golden State Warriors in game one of the western conference semifinals round. Houston was slow to shake off the rust from their extended break in the first quarter, but their outstanding defense kept them competitive regardless. Golden State would benefit from a few key no-calls late in the fourth quarter and Stephen Curry buried a 3-point dagger to escape 104-100. Golden State leads the series one game to zero.

Slow Start

Houston did their best impression of their western conference finals game seven performance to kick off the series, and not in a good way. Murmurs of the Rocket's now infamous 0-27 3-point clunker surfaced as Houston struggled with a 1-14 performance to round out the first quarter. Stingy defense and points off of turnovers kept Houston in the game, but after a 4-point loss it's difficult not to look back and consider their atrocious start as a significant contributing factor.

Capela's Clunker

News broke earlier in the week following Houston's loss in Utah that center Clint Capela had been battling not one but two simultaneous upper respiratory viruses that contributed to his lack of production. Having been off since Wednesday, it was hoped that Capela would have enough time to recover enough for game one against the Warriors. It remains to be discovered if there were any lingering effects, but what can't be denied is that Capela was non-existent and practically unplayable throughout game one. The Rockets starting big man who outright called out the Warriors earlier this week after eliminating the Jazz was the same one who turned in a 4 point, 6 rebound performance and was virtually snuffed out by a well executed Golden State interior defense. Capela must reassert himself as a factor this series if Houston is going to upend the Warriors.

Costly no calls

Game one was--from a pure basketball enthusiast's perspective--a fantastic and pulse pounding start to the most highly anticipated playoff series of the season to date. Unfortunately the excitement of the game will be mainly forgotten and instead replaced with debates over several key moments of controversial officiating. In at least four separate incidents, Warriors players impeded Rockets' shooters "landing zones" from beyond the three-point line. The rule violation, categorized as a shooting foul, would have resulted in at least 12 free throw attempts. Houston had other opportunities to win that they failed to capitalize on, but in a game that was decided by four points it's a bad look for any of the attention to be directed toward poor officiating.

Rockets player of the game

James Harden: 35 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals

Warriors player of the game

Kevin Durant: 35 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block

Next up:

The Rockets will remain in the bay area for game two of the western conference semifinals on Tuesday at 9:30 pm, central time.

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