4th-quarter run knocks Rockets out of playoffs

4th-quarter run knocks Rockets out of playoffs
May 4, 2013, 2:00 am
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Highlights: Rockets drop Game 6 to OKC

Patrick Beverley already had his bags packed.

The first-year point guard didn’t think about losing Game 6 on Friday night. He was ready to head back to Oklahoma City for Game 7 on Sunday.

But that won’t happen. Instead, the scrappy guard’s season ended at the hands of the Thunder 103-94. There won’t be a trip to Oklahoma. There won’t be a Game 7. The Rockets’ run is over.

It’s time to unpack.

“I’m at a loss for words right now,” Beverley said, sitting down in front of his locker less than a half hour after the game ended. “I packed my clothes to go back to Oklahoma. I don’t know. My mind was set to play Game 7. It just hurts when you go out there and give your all every game. It’s just frustrating right now.”

After losing the first three games to Oklahoma City in the best-of-seven series, Houston was attempting to make history. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series. Had the Rockets forced a Game 7, they would have been just the fourth team in the history of the league to do so.

The Rockets were up as many as 10 points in the third quarter before the Thunder retook the lead and ran away with it.

That was the game.

“We missed shots. They hit big key shots,” veteran Aaron Brooks said. “We knew they were going to go on a run. They’re a good team and that’s what happened.”

After three quarters, the Rockets were down one. Then, the Thunder went on a 14-4 run to open the fourth quarter.

“Against good teams,” Beverley said, “it’s hard to recover from that. And we couldn’t recover.”

Kevin Durant scored a game-high 27 points but was quiet at times. He scored eight points in the first six minutes of the game but finished with just nine at the half. But when Durant wasn’t scoring, Kevin Martin was. Martin, who was traded by the Rockets before the season started, scored 25 points. Reggie Jackson, who has been filling in for Russell Westbrook, scored 17 points, with eight assists and seven rebounds.

The Rockets came out flat in the fourth quarter and blew their chance to steal another game. For the first two minutes, starters, including James Harden, were on the bench. That run was just too much to overcome.

“Just normal basketball plays,” Beverley said about the run. “We missed shots, turned the ball over. They came down and they made shots. Game-changers like that. They took it from a tied game to down nine points.”

The Rockets had 15 turnovers. Chandler Parsons led the way with five. The Rockets were outscored in the paint 40-24.

“Our turnovers kicked our tail again,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. “When we have live-ball turnovers, top of the key, free throw line, there’s no defense for that. They had 23 points off our turnovers and we’ve had problems with that on and off all year.”

Parsons had some turnovers but he also had a very big game. He scored 25 points and gathered seven rebounds. James Harden scored a team-high 26 and Omer Asik had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

The eighth-seeded Rockets were bounced from the playoffs on Friday but most players seemed enthused about the future. Harden said it will help the team for its young players to be around each other this offseason.

“I told them, I said, this is a start of a journey for these guys,” McHale said. “Everyone feels bad but it’s the start of a journey for these guys as a group collectively.”

And the Rockets realize that. But it still hurt right after the game. After all, some of them already had their bags packed for Oklahoma.

Now, they have to go unpack. And wait until next year.

“Poise. Leadership. Pain,” Beverley said. “There’s a lot of words to use to describe what the process is like. It almost feels like the end of the world, the game just got finished 20 minutes ago.”