September 27, 2021

Possession the key for Rockets in Game 7

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The Houston Rockets know they must iron out the turnovers as they look to see off the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 7 of their Western Conference first-round series on Wednesday night. 

Houston were guilty of 22 giveaways in Monday’s 104-100 defeat and averaged 17.3 turnovers in Games 3, 4 and 6, having averaged little over eight in Games 1, 2 and 5.

Wednesday’s NBA playoff games

  • Gm 2: Heat @ Bucks | 11:30pm | Sky Sports Arena
  • Gm 7: Thunder @ Rockets | 2am Thursday | Sky Sports Arena

Live NBA: Oklahoma @ Houston GM7

Thursday 3rd September 2:00am

Sky Sports Arena

“Twenty-two [turnovers] just sealed our fate,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni.

James Harden echoed his coach, adding: “A lot of careless turnovers, including myself. Just too many turnovers, especially in a playoff game – a closeout game – just gave them too many opportunities.

“I think defensively we did a pretty good job. We just shot ourselves in the foot by turning the ball over and giving us less opportunities to score.”

NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal praised Chris Paul for his pivotal role in Oklahoma City's Game 6 win over Houston in their Western Conference first round playoff series. 6:41
NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal praised Chris Paul for his pivotal role in Oklahoma City’s Game 6 win over Houston in their Western Conference first-round playoff series

Harden led the Rockets with 32 points in Game 6 after shooting 11 of 22 from the field and three of 11 from behind the arc, Robert Covington had 18 points and Russell Westbrook continued his return from injury with 17 points.

For Oklahoma, Chris Paul notched 15 of his 28 points in the final quarter, including two three throws with 13.1 seconds left and the game tied at 100. Another two from Danilo Gallinari and a Westbrook turnover eventually sealed the win for the Thunder.

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Houston know they must close out the game as early as possible, with the Thunder having led the league with 30 clutch wins in the regular season. Their three wins over the Rockets in the series have also been from positions where the score was within five points with under five minutes remaining.

“There’s no excuse for some of the losses we have in this series,” said Rockets forward PJ Tucker.

Highlights of Game 6 of the Western Conference first round playoff series between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. 3:09
Highlights of Game 6 between the Rockets and Thunder

“And there’s no excuse for us to still be sitting here talking about things that we should be doing anyways and that should be fixated in our minds completely.

“We shouldn’t have to meet, we shouldn’t have film sessions, we shouldn’t have any of that stuff. Let’s talk about the things that are costing us the game.

“I’m just ready to play. Period.”

Alongside Paul, the Thunder were boosted by 25 points from Gallinari, 13 from Lu Dort, 12 from Dennis Schroder, 10 from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and 14 rebounds from Steven Adams.

“It was great to see the way our guys competed [in Game 6],” said coach Billy Donovan.

“You know we’re going to need to compete like that again. I think that there’s things that we can clean up, there’s things that we need to do better that we have control over.

Chris Paul throws a pass beyond the reach of Rockets defender Eric Gordon 1:54
Paul impressed with 28 points as Oklahoma City managed to force a Game 7

“But we were in an elimination situation [on Monday night] so we have got to come out there and we have got to do it together. We’ve got to play for each other and we’ve got to help each other out there on both ends of the floor.”

Thunder forward Gallinari added: “I think the way you approach this is just like another playoff game.

“Of course it’s an [elimination] game, but I think that we need to take all the positive stuff that we did in the last game, and especially the approach and the attention to details that we had for 48 minutes.”

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