Ackerman: Game 4 A "Legacy-Defining Win"

After beating the Warriors in Oakland, Chris Paul, James Harden and Mike D'Antoni may have created a new postseason narrative

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
May 23, 2018 - 9:31 am

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The Houston Rockets led the Golden State Warriors by seven points heading into halftime of Game 4 on Tuesday, and they had to feel pretty good about themselves. 

But then the Warriors did what the Warriors do: They went on a third-quarter flurry, with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and others hitting every conceivable shot from every conceivable angle. In the span of 12 minutes, the Warriors turned a seven-point deficit into a 10-point lead.

And yet, the Rockets found a way to win, 95-92, to even the series.

How did they do it?

“They defended,” Rockets radio voice Craig Ackerman said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They locked down Golden State and held them to 12 fourth-quarter points. They knocked down some timely shots – Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon. But they defended. They defended as if their season was on the line. You got to give credit to P.J. Tucker, who was terrific rebounding the ball in the fourth quarter. He had seven of his 16 rebounds in the fourth, and they did all the little things that it takes to win. Here they are, 2-2, with home court back on their side and two of the final three games of this series back at Toyota Center.”

James Harden, who scored a game-high 30 points, and Chris Paul combined for 57 of Houston’s 95 points, while Gordon chipped in with 14 off the bench. The Rockets played just seven players, with four of them playing at least 40 minutes.

“I don’t want to go too far down the well with this,” Ackerman said. “The Rockets haven’t won anything yet. They just evened up the series. Obviously Golden State is fully capable  of coming into Houston and winning Game 5 and ending this thing on their home court over the weekend in Game 6. But this, in part, was a legacy-defining win for a lot of the players and coaches with this organization, especially after the embarrassment of Game 3 and the start here in Game 4.”

The Rockets trailed the Warriors 12-0 out of the gate but fought back to end Golden State’s 16-game postseason winning streak in Oakland.

“To come back and win this game and end the Warriors’ lengthy playoff home-court winning streak in the manner that they did, I think changes a little bit – maybe not all of it, but a little bit of the conversation surrounding Chris Paul and James Harden and Mike D’Antoni and some others,” Ackerman said. “And so, like I said, they haven’t won this series, and they may not win this series, but I think this game went a long way towards perhaps maybe changing some of the thoughts that people have – incorrectly so, in my opinion – on some of the players and coaches that are on this roster.”

Indeed, Paul, Harden and D’Antoni have been criticized throughout their careers for their lack of postseason success. Ackerman, though, believes those narratives are overstated.

“Chris’ playoff numbers and success with the Clippers, he’s been very good,” Ackerman said. “It wasn’t necessarily on him while they ultimately never got to the conference finals with the Clippers.”

Harden has been stellar for several seasons in Houston, but he no-showed against San Antonio in the playoffs last year, scoring just 10 points in a season-ending 114-75 loss at home.

“He’s already played in a Finals,” Ackerman pointed out. “He led the Rockets that one year to the conference finals against Golden State. He typically has been very good in the postseason as well. He’s been terrific so far in the postseason, especially in the first two rounds, and the Rockets are taking on a historically great team. Even though the Rockets won 65 games in the regular season and have home-court advantage and they earned all of that, the Warriors are another level. They should be the favorites, and they should be the favorites to come out of this series regardless of what happened (in Game 4).’

D’Antoni, meanwhile, has had success with multiple franchises but has never reached an NBA Finals. Of course, he may have had Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw not been suspended against San Antonio in the Western Conference semifinals in 2007.

“He’s a great coach,” Ackerman said. “He’s a Hall of Fame coach. Hopefully people will start looking at all of these guys a little bit differently.”

Game 5 is Thursday in Houston. Tip-off is at 9 p.m. ET.