The Houston Rockets did everything right—they acquired a second star, they cruised through the regular season en route to the NBA's best record, they built a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference Finals. But it all fell apart in the final two games. Guard Chris Paul suffered a hamstring injury and missed Games 6 and 7.
Houston built a lead in both games, but the loaded Warriors stormed back in each second half. Golden State advanced to the NBA Finals, where the Warriors will face the Cavs for the fourth consecutive year, with a 101-92 win Monday.
Would the Rockets have been able to hold off Golden State and reach the promised land if their second star were healthy? Eric Gordon, who stepped into the starting lineup in Paul's absence, believes so.
"It sucks because you know you could win this series if we just had one more playmaker," Gordon said, according to ESPN. "If we had Chris, if he was out there, we'd have been playing on Thursday. It's just tough."
Of course, we'll never know what would have happened, but Gordon's theory seems rational enough. The Rockets struggled to drum up offense in the second half and sure looked like they needed a second creator as they went ice cold from downtown (Houston at one point missed 27 straight three-point attempts).
"That's what C.P. was so good at in two [of the] games we won," Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said. "They'd make a little run, he'd hit a 3. They make another run, and he makes another play. And you have to have those momentum changers and stoppers, and the last two games, we didn't have them."
Gordon played well in defeat. He racked up 23 points, six assists, and three rebounds, but shot only 2 for 12 from downtown. The Rockets have him under contract for two more years, and it would be shocking if he didn't return to Houston next season.
Do not be surprised, however, if Houston General Manager Daryl Morey makes some move. Morey is "obsessed" with beating the Warriors.