Bad call. Worse loss.
The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets blow giant lead and lose to Spurs 135-133
The Rockets could come up with a bunch of excuses for why they lost this game, but at the end of the day, that's all they will amount to - excuses. Houston had every opportunity to close this one out and they didn't.
Houston actually started the game out decent, to their credit. They had a 63-59 lead at halftime and 97-81 lead heading into the third quarter. This is where shot-making and defense absolutely killed the Rockets to close out the game. They posted a 109.2 defensive rating (good for bottom 10 in the league), shot 42 of 112 from the field (38%), and 15 of 51 from three-point range (29%).
The Rockets allowed Bryn Forbes and Lonnie Walker to combine for 53 points on 20 of 31 shooting from the field and 9 of 13 from three-point distance. Walker had been struggling mightily to get going for the Spurs before this game (2.5 points per game on 41.6% true shooting) and Houston allowed him to have a career game.
This will go down as one of the few games of the season where neither James Harden or Russell Westbrook will receive the star of the game or honorable mention honors, despite Harden scoring 50 points. Harden and Westbrook combined for 18 of 68 shooting from the field and 5 of 26 shooting from three-point range. They were both Houston's only negative plus/minus players in the starting lineup (-3 and -8 respectively).
Star of the game: Clint Capela returned from the illness that kept him bed-ridden for a week to log 22 points, 20 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal on 9 of 9 shooting from the field and 4 of 6 shooting from the free throw line. Capela defended well for taking a week off and had the team's second highest plus/minus in this loss (+16).
Honorable mention: After shooting the ball dreadfully before this game (28.6% from three-point range), Austin Rivers had one of his better games of the season, scoring 19 points on 6 of 8 shooting from the field (5 of 6 shooting from three-point range), grabbing 5 rebounds, and playing excellent individual defense down the stretch for Houston.
Key moment: With a 13-point lead and 8 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Rockets let a blown call get to them and proceeded to play some of the worst defense they've played all season.
It was obviously inexcusable for the officiating crew to completely miss a basket like that, but the story of this game was and should continue to be how poorly the Rockets played following that call. Their decision making and shot-making also cost them dearly in the overtime periods.
Up next: The Rockets travel to Toronto at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday to take on the surging Raptors.