The Houston Rockets Blew a 17-Point Lead With Remarkable Panache

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 26:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a play against the Golden State Warriors during Game Six of the Western Conference Finals in the 2018 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 26, 2018 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
James Harden is rather perplexed.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Even without starting point guard Chris Paul, the Houston Rockets found themselves sitting pretty in Saturday night’s Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. By the end of the first quarter, the Rockets were up 39-22 against the Golden State Warriors and on the cusp of the NBA Finals. But that insurmountable-seeming lead turned out to be extremely surmountable.

The surmounting started slowly, then came all at once. In the end, the scoreboard said Golden State 115, Houston 86. It was quite the turnaround, one best explained by some high-octane arithmetic.

—The Warriors won the second half by a score of 64-25.

—Golden State went on a 45-12 run in the final 18 minutes.

—The Rockets scored 24 points just on 3-pointers in the first quarter. You’ll recall that they scored 25 points in the entire second half.

This last one is not a stat, but it is important nonetheless:

Will the Warriors spot the Rockets more than 17 points in the first quarter of Game 7? Tune in to find out.