Without Kawhi Leonard, Spurs blast James Harden and the Rockets in Game 6
I don’t know what’s wrong with the Houston Rockets, but it’s probably not good.
The San Antonio Spurs demolished Houston in Game 6 on Thursday, 114-75, all without Kawhi Leonard, who sat out with an ankle injury. LaMarcus Aldridge finally looked alive, scoring 34 points to go along with 12 rebounds. James Harden, a game removed from notching a triple-double, had just 10 points while adding seven assists and a whopping six turnovers.
Houston looked lacking all game, with a real separation occurring in the second quarter. The Rockets scored just 18 points in the second period, unable to score from 3-point range.
In fact, the Rockets made just 13 of the 40 3-pointers they took, a stark contrast to their 22-of-50 explosion from Game 1.
Perhaps most perplexing was Harden’s effort, who at times seemed active but unable to judge timing and distance on his drives and passes. The Rockets star led the game in turnovers -- he had just one less than San Antonio had as a team -- and many of them came on odd decisions and ill-timed passes.
Harden’s example seemed to lead the way for the Rockets, who in a line failed to produce an active offensive night. Trevor Ariza led the way in scoring for Houston with 20 points, and Patrick Beverley, Eric Gordon, and Ryan Anderson were all held to single-digit scoring totals.
Getting the nod in place for Leonard for San Antonio was Jonathon Simmons, who scored 18 points in his first-ever NBA playoff start. Simmons dropped 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting, adding four assists. Dejounte Murray was a standout off the bench with 11 points for the Spurs.
The game was never really close, and the way Houston ended their season had to be disappointing for Rockets fans considering how incredible they were to watch over the course of the year. The Spurs, meanwhile, appear to be the Spurs.
San Antonio heads to yet another Western Conference Finals -- this time to take on the Golden State Warriors -- in the most Spurs way possible, beating an MVP candidate by 39 points without their best player on the floor.
Meanwhile, Houston will have to regroup and figure out why their world class offense stalled against a team without Leonard even on the floor.
Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals is on Sunday in Oakland.