12 May 2017 - 22:25
NBA: Short-handed Spurs humble Houston to advance
Washington: The San Antonio Spurs humiliated the Houston Rockets on Thursday with a 114-75 game six closeout win that brought James Harden's MVP-worthy season to a dramatic end.
LaMarcus Aldridge paced the offense by scoring 34 points for the short-handed Spurs, who routed the Rockets despite the absence of top scorer Kawhi Leonard and star guard Tony Parker.
San Antonio won the second-round series in six games and punched their ticket to the Western Conference playoff finals against the Golden State Warriors, which kicks off on Sunday.
Harden's baffling performance in front of a Houston crowd of 18,050 at the Toyota Center arena was almost as big a shock as the Spurs' winning a NBA playoff elimination contest by a whopping 39 points. The Rockets 75 points was second-lowest in a game during Harden era.
And the Spurs didn't need Parker (torn left quadriceps) or Leonard (sore left ankle) to do it. Jonathon Simmons added 18 points in place of Leonard, while Patty Mills chipped in 14 points and seven assists.
Pau Gasol tallied 10 points with 11 rebounds for San Antonio, which trailed 5-4 in the first quarter before coasting to the win.
San Antonio shot 53 percent from the field, compiled a 60-37 rebounding advantage and limited Houston to 28 percent shooting.
Harden was a non-factor Thursday after finishing second in scoring during the season at 29.1 points per game. He did not attempt a shot until the 6:19 mark of the second quarter.
By halftime Harden had as many points as turnovers (five each), and his two field-goal attempts at the intermission were fewer than 15 of the 16 players who played before the break.
Harden finished with 10 points on two-of-11 shooting with seven assists and six turnovers. Trevor Ariza paced Houston with 20 points, and Clint Capela had 15 points and 12 boards.