HOUSTON – Guard Eric Gordon believes that Chris Paul's tense right Achilles tendon cost the Houston Rockets a trip to the NBA Finals.
Paul, a nine-time all-star point guard, missed the final two games of the Western Conference Final after injuring his Achilles tendon in the final minute of the Houston Game 5 victory. The Rockets built two-digit halftime scores in games 6 and 7, but the Golden State Warriors rallied on both occasions to eliminate Houston and reach their fourth finals.
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"It sucks because you know you could win this series if we had just one playmaker," Gordon said after the loss of the Rockets against 101 -92 Monday night in game 7. "If we had Chris, if he were out there, we would have played on Thursday, it's just tough."
The Warriors According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first team in history the NBA, which returned from two-digit halftime scores in several elimination games of the same series. Golden State took the lead in the final two games, dominating the third quarter, outpacing the Rockets by a total of 35 points in those 24 minutes.
Houston coach Mike D & # 39; Antoni lamented Paul's absence when he was asked about the Warriors' dominance of the third quarter.
"That's what CP was so good at in two [of the] games we won," said D & # 39; Antoni. "They would make a small run, he would hit a 3. They make another run and he makes another game and you have to have these momentum changers and stoppers, and we did not have the last two games"
Paul scored an average of 21.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists during the playoffs, earning the conference finals for the first time in his career. He had a 27-point performance in his Game 4 victory over the Warriors, a rally of 12 in the fourth quarter and 18 of his 20 points in the second half of the game 5 victory.
It's the second time in the last three years that Paul's postseason was prematurely ended due to an injury. The Los Angeles Clippers were eliminated by the Portland Trail Blazers in six games in the first round of 2016, when Paul broke his hand during Game 4.
"Mostly I hate it for him," said D & # 39; Antoni. "He's probably more devastated than anyone else."
Paul received treatment around the clock hoping to return to Game 7, but 2nd-grade muscle strain usually lasts at least two weeks. He tried to test the Achilles tendon on Monday, but was not about to be ready.
"It's tough," said D & # 39; Antoni. "But it's part of the game again, I thought we had enough, and I still do, it's just, I think, devastating for the players, for me, for all fans of Houston, but then again, I'll see and I try to be optimistic and I just love our spirit and what they are trying to do and how they have been climbing all year to get where they need to be so close. "
While Gordon explained that The Rockets Would Do It After winning the series with Paul, other Houston players refused to use his injury as an excuse.
"I will not even go in, man," said Rocket striker PJ Tucker, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds in Game 7. "It's an adult league, it does not matter, next man, you have to play, win It does not matter who plays, climb up. "
Houston Guard added James Harden, who had 32 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists: "We do not even think about it, we had a chance tonight and the last game without Chris, obviously he's a big part of why we are here, but we had opp ortunities, especially in the first half of the two games. "
The Rockets had a historically bad shooting night in Game 7. They went 7 of 44 out of 3-point area, including 27 consecutive misses, a record for most missed 3s in a row during a playoff game. Houston will be struck by some of those missed candid glances and Paul's injury.
"We should have won tonight," said Rocky's general manager Daryl Morey to ESPN. "I do not have much to say."