The Rockets advanced, though Russell Westbrook and a Thunder were a story once again

The Western Conference playoff array between a Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder was billed as a many sparkling matchup of a initial spin and a possibility for tip MVP possibilities James Harden and Russell Westbrook to face off for bragging rights, if not a tangible hardware. It was to be a huge conflict between dual of a game’s brightest superstars — accurately a kind of storyline that is ostensible to conclude a postseason.

The existence was many reduction watchable than anticipated, though maybe some-more thespian for it. The Rockets finished off a five-game rejecting of a Thunder on Tuesday night, entrance behind from a five-point necessity by 3 buliding to win 105-99. As in prior games of a series, a character of basketball on arrangement was mostly husky and spasmodic officious hideous. However, that distortion brought out some of a many critical qualities in both teams and voiced many of a differences between them, including that involving a luminary who does a lot and one who does scarcely everything.

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However, a many critical widen of a diversion occurred with conjunction Harden nor Westbrook on a court. OKC entered a fourth entertain adult 77-72 after a superb third in that Westbrook scored 20 of a team’s 33 points to spin around a seven-point halftime deficit. Holding a element lead, conduct manager Billy Donovan opted to rest his luminary in a wish that a team’s delegate players could buck a trend of a series and say a advantage.

It did not go as planned. The Rockets outscored a Thunder 14-4 in a small 2:45 Westbrook sat to spin a five-point lead into a five-point deficit. He returned out of a timeout dire to get OKC behind into a game, and a recklessness was apparent. Westbrook shot 2 of 10 in a duration (including 0 of 5 from over a arc) in a opening identical to a one he put onward in a fourth entertain of Game 2. He attempted to do too much, yes, though no one else seemed able of doing many to assistance him. The Thunder stayed comparatively tighten and had chances to tie a diversion late, though their deteriorate died as it lived — with Westbrook holding on some-more responsibilities than any actor has in new NBA history.

It’s substantially not value rehashing all a arguments over Westbrook after 87 games in 2016-17 and copiousness some-more in prior seasons. Nevertheless, what was conspicuous about a finish to Game 5 was that scarcely all of those informed points seemed true. Those disposed to harp on Westbrook’s weaknesses could indicate to his insistence on holding 18 3-pointers notwithstanding creation usually five, his miss of trust in his teammates (including on one play where he seemed to retard Jerami Grant’s putback attempt), and a ostensible inability to find a good shot in break time. But those who are prone to see things from Westbrook’s indicate of perspective had copiousness of justification for their case, too. The Thunder unequivocally couldn’t do anything though Westbrook on a building this whole series. There were gaps everywhere — Andre Roberson was a vital guilt as a aim of conscious fouls though had to play for his defensive value, and during times each lineup looked like Westbrook and 4 players who surpass during drumming a round out on descent rebounds. Is it unequivocally satisfactory to cry “inefficiency” over someone who puts adult 47 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists when his teammates do so small to assistance him?

All these factors played out over a fourth entertain in a stage that mostly seemed some-more like a hearing than a basketball game. Debates over Westbrook have dominated this season, and Game 5 was something like a shutting argument. we suspect that creates June’s MVP proclamation a verdict, nonetheless it’s a protected gamble that everybody will continue to reason a same opinions about him regardless of what happens dual months from now.

In such a scenario, a Rockets looked reduction like a group in control than a beneficiaries of a predicament they didn’t have to solve. But a Rockets’ ease underneath vigour was itself one of a reasons they won this array — in fact, they actively total many of a situations that foiled a Thunder via this series. Mike D’Antoni’s preference to force Roberson to a free-throw line exemplified his preference to abandon his personal preferences and plod adult a pace, that also authorised Harden to flower in a stop-start, foul-laden game. His 34 points were rather quiet, though any diversion in that he takes 17 giveaway throws bears his imprint.

Yet a other Rockets were eventually a disproportion in this series. Lou Williams contributed 22 points (7-of-14 FG) to continue a stellar array in that he offering Houston a dais choice that OKC sorely lacked. He scored 10 of a 14 points in a Rockets’ game-changing run to start a final duration and done a large impact on a night when Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza total to fire only 1 of 16 from 3-point range.

Perhaps a doctrine of this array is easier than a perpetual elucidation of Westbrook lets on. The Rockets didn’t allege since Harden plays for his teammates some-more than Westbrook does, though since he has improved teammates. Maybe all else is only a matter of personal taste.

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Eric Freeman is a author for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him during or follow him on Twitter!

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