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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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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