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.

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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