With 14 minutes left, Game 6 felt just like the two in Los Angeles before it. The Rockets were close at the half, trailing by only two, but they were blitzed yet again in the third quarter, with the Clippers pushing the 64-62 halftime edge to 89-70.
In the prior two cases, the Rockets folded and lost by 25+ points. This time? They were able to deliver a stunning 49-18 counter-punch to the Clippers to close the game and tie the series at 3-3, sending it back to Houston for a decisive Game 7 on Sunday.
The wildest part? MVP runner-up James Harden wasn’t even playing, making it one of the more improbable and remarkable in-game turnarounds in NBA playoff history. It was Detroit castoff Josh Smith who led the way late, scoring 14 points in the final quarter while throwing in three daggers from behind the arc.
Among topics explored:
- The brilliance of Kevin McHale’s in-game adjustments and strategy
- Why inserting Josh Smith for Terrence Jones in the starting lineup helped both players
- How Dwight Howard (21 rebounds) dominated DeAndre Jordan (9 rebounds) on the glass
- The sudden disappearance of the Clippers’ bench, led by Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers
- Should Houston fans be concerned about James Harden’s poor outing (5-of-20 FG)?
- Who wins Game 7 on Sunday?
Ben DuBose is a veteran sports reporter who has followed the Houston Rockets and the NBA since Hakeem Olajuwon was Akeem Olajuwon. He writes for both SheridanHoops and ClutchFans, and his podcasts with Josh Reese can be found on the Red & Orange Report. You can follow him on Twitter.