NBA Playoffs: Houston Rockets Live to Fight Another Day, Lessons Continue

Vinny Hardy@ IApril 30, 2013

Apr 29, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley (12) reacts after a shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the third quarter in game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at the Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Thunder 105-103. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

As the Houston Rockets' season hung in the balance, Jason Friedman of may have said it best. 

Rockets lead went from 7 to 2 quicker than you can say, "KD." 1:13 left. Rockets don't need another lesson. They need a win.— Jason Friedman (@JasonCFriedman) April" _mce_href="">April">">April 30, 2013 

There have been plenty lessons to be learned in the Rocket's first round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Game 1 was embarrassing, March Madness No. 1 versus No. 16 seed embarrassing.

The top seeded Thunder attempted to choke the life out of the underdog Rockets with a 120-91 thrashing. Games 2 and 3 were not as lopsided, but just as harsh. Heartbreaking, tantalizingly close games that Houston had every chance to win.

Both losses were by a combined six points.

No one wants to win this series more than James Harden. At times, the idea of conquering his former team by himself has gotten him out of his game a bit.

His scoring average has remained the same for the most part (25.9 regular season, 25.3 playoffs).

However, his field goal percentage has slipped considerably (.438 down to .364). He's in an awful slump (.160) from behind the arc as well.

His two missed free throws (five for the game) near the end of Game 3 with the score tied at 91 were huge and could have possibly changed things in Houston's favor.

He followed that up with a brutal Game 4 which saw him turn the ball over 10 times which led to this quote from Harden himself. 

Harden when asked about his struggles tonight: "well I did have a double-double."— Jason Friedman (@JasonCFriedman) April" _mce_href="">April">">April 30, 2013 

It's always much easier to find the humor after a win.

Fortunately, his teammates picked him up in Houston's 105-103 victory in Game 4.Chandler Parsons flirted with a triple-double, while Carlos Delfino did damage at the rim and behind the arc.

Patrick Beverly brought his energy and protected the basketball. Francisco Garcia played tough, gritty, much-needed defense and added some critical three-pointers.

Someone had to step up and slow Kevin Durant down and at least make him earn some of what he gets.

This series can't be discussed without mentioning Kevin Durant's fluky three-pointer in Game 3. The only shot that even compares to this is Kentucky's Patrick Sparks in the 2005 Elite Eight.

At the very least, this could be all tied up 2-2 heading back to OKC. It's not, but the Rockets aren't dead yet, either. They couldn't be in position to win a second game in this series without getting their first win under their belts.

Confidence that they can overcome an 0-3 deficit is running high, and it starts with the GM.

Maple Leafs, Islanders, Flyers, Red Sox

#believe&mdash" _mce_href="">#believenull&mdash">">#believe — Daryl Morey (@dmorey) April" _mce_href="">April">">April 30, 2013 

The team, city, and fan base feel the same way. That's all you can ask.

All stats are accurate as of April 30, 2013." class="twitter-follow-button" data-show-count="false">Follow @VinnyHardy