After trailing the series 3-1, the Houston Rockets won their next home game convincingly and travelled to Los Angeles in an attempt to avoid elimination and tie the series up 3-3. The Clippers failed to finish off the Rockets in game 5 and went off in the third quarter to take a commanding double-digit lead. The crowd was buzzing as they were on the verge of witnessing Clippers’ history: only 14 minutes separated them from reaching the Conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
The Rockets didn’t lie down. With their season on the line, they pulled off an amazing comeback in those final 14 minutes as they turned a 19-point deficit into a 12-point win to force a game 7. The crowd was stunned. The complete meltdown of the Clippers was otherworldly, more so because the Rockets completed this incredible comeback with James Harden on the bench for the entire fourth quarter.
The Clippers never fully recovered from that blow. Houston took control of game 7, leading from start to finish, completing the comeback by winning the final game 113-100 and advancing to the conference finals for the first time since 1997. It was only the ninth time in NBA history that a team has overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a 7-game playoff series.
Houston led the game by 18 after three quarters and James Harden made sure a similar comeback did not happen. He attacked the basket relentlessly as he went to the foul line 10 more times in the fourth quarter to finish the game with 31 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds. He got plenty of help from Ariza, who added 22 points including some timely daggers from behind the arc (6-of-12) to keep the Clippers at bay.
The Houston Rockets will play the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference final, a series that will start on Wednesday, 11AM AEST.