Starting 5: Goodbye Houston, OKC nearly locked in at 2 & an amazing CP3 assist

starting_5_banner

Every morning, we’ll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.

1:  Houston, we have ping pong balls

The Houston Rockets had a nice little run.  After some early struggles, they won nine out of 10 games and pieced together a few different short winning streaks to keep themselves alive in the playoff hunt.  But injuries to Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry proved to be too much of a burden for the rest of the team to carry.  

The Rockets lost to the Heat last night, ending their playoff hopes and leaving the last spot in the West to be fought over by Phoenix and Utah.  Oh, and guess who’s playing each other tomorrow night?  It’s a must win for Phoenix, who will either tie for the 8th seed or get eliminated.

2: OKC’s fall to #2 just about complete

The Oklahoma aren’t officially the second seed in the West, but they will be shortly.  They are now 1.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the top seed in the West after last night’s loss to LA.  With two games left on their schedule and three games left on the Spurs’ slate, OKC would need San Antonio to lose out while they won their last two to take the top seed back (the Spurs own the tiebreaker).  

The two major concerns for OKC now are (1) how is James Harden after that elbow to the head?  He did try to come back last night, but he was sent back with growing signs of a concussion.  (2) they’re 6-6 over their last 12 and there is a growing symphony of voices concerned with OKC’s ability to play the style of playoff basketball necessary to make it to the Finals.  Hero ball only gets you so far. 

3:  HIGHLIGHTS!!!

Chris Paul’s no-look-while-lying-on-the-floor dime for the dunk


   

Do you like dunks?  Here’s like, a million of them from JaVale McGee from last night’s game

Blake Griffin’s head almost hit the rim

4:  Line of the Night:  Chris Paul – 33 points, 13 assists, 8 steals, 4 rebounds, 2 turnovers

The eight steals are the big number.  It’s the fifth time in Paul’s career that he’s had at least eight steals (his career high is nine).  Paul’s heroics helped fuel a comeback win over his former team, the New Orleans Hornets, and kept the Clippers a half game behind the Lakers in the Pacific division and the third seed.  

5:  You can quote me on that

“I can’t speculate (how many games).  I’m sure he’ll have some type of a suspension. And James, I hope he’s OK. I haven’t heard anything about how he’s doing, but he’s one of my favorite players in the league, one of my young boys, so I hope he’s doing all right.”
      -Kobe Bryant, on Ron Artest’s elbow to James Harden’s head 

“Failure is a horrible word, I don’t like it and I don’t consider it a failure.  Our goal was to make the playoffs and we are hurt because we couldn’t qualify. But a failure? No, I don’t see it that way.”
     -Rockets forward Luis Scola, on missing the playoffs 

Quantcast