Harden's great season for Rockets ends in embarrassing loss

Harden's great season for Rockets ends in embarrassing loss

Harden's great season for Rockets ends in embarrassing loss

The Houston Rockets saw their 2016-17 season come to an end on Thursday night, as they were hammered at home by the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals, 114-75.

James Harden went up for a 3-pointer, changed his mind and tossed the ball between two teammates.

The San Antonio Spurs are thrilled to be in the Western Conference finals for the first time since winning the title in 2014.

And those images will linger for some time.

Trevor Ariza led Houston with 20 points on a night when MVP hopeful Harden capped his stellar season by tying a season low with 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting before fouling out with 3:15 left.

Asked if Harden was injured, D'Antoni said, "He's been battling that cold, but nothing I know of".

Instead, things went wrong early for the Rockets with Aldridge scoring 10 points in the first quarter as San Antonio dashed out to a 31-24.

"It's frustrating definitely", he said.

"He's had a historic season, and we can get that better", D'Antoni said.

Harden averaged 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds a game - all career bests - in helping Houston to a 55-27 record and the third best record in the National Basketball Association a year after the Rockets squeaked into the playoffs an eighth seed.

Morey mentioned that the Rockets place as much responsibility on Harden - the first player in National Basketball Association history to record at least 2,000 points, 900 assists and 600 rebounds in a season - as any player in the league.

Harden's baffling performance in front of a Houston crowd of 18,050 at the Toyota Center arena was nearly as big a stunner as the Spurs' winning a National Basketball Association playoff elimination contest by a whopping 39 points.

While San Antonio fought through six games with the Rockets, the Warriors have been off since wrapping up a sweep of the Utah Jazz on Monday. Then Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and D'Antoni briefly spoke with Harden and chose to "give him some space".

"Obviously, you see [Harden] had a tough game. The guy that's hardest on James is James". "We're all disappointed. But he's No. 1".

While D'Antoni and the rest of the players were required to address Thursday's porous effort, Harden was nowhere to be found on Friday's exit interview day. He still seemed stunned by what transpired and used the word "shell-shocked" three separate times on Friday.

D'Antoni, who just finished his first season in Houston, said Harden can make significant progress after his first campaign as a full-time point guard.

"If we give up offensive rebounds and they take more shots than us, it's going to be hard for us to win", Durant said. "I think over the long haul when we didn't win Game 5 we came back and we were just mentally at zero".

"He's really turned it on", coach Gregg Popovich said. D'Antoni is 0-5 in playoff series against the Spurs, with Popovich eliminating his Suns teams in 2005, 2007, 2008 and the Lakers in 2013 before this season's loss.

"All great players think they can do everything", D'Antoni told reporters.

"They feel as bad as I do. They've beaten everybody. but yeah, it hurts".

"We understand that the team we're now facing is the most risky team in the league with a lot of weapons", Pau Gasol said. "We need to add layers to the offense where it takes some of the load off of James".

"We're hungry, we're not satisfied", Mills said.

After the crushing ending, that might not even be enough time.

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