On Star Wars Day, balance was restored to the Force in the NBA Western Conference semifinals.
In New Orleans, “the losing team in a five-game series wins Game 3” was in full effect as the Pelicans beat the Golden State Warriors 119-100.
And in Utah, the Houston Rockets just up and decided to remind the Jazz that winning one game on the road does not automatically mean you then go on to win the series in six. Don’t believe me? Ask us Pacers fans.
Rajon Rondo and Draymond Green getting into it EARLY
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) May 5, 2018
Not the first time this series that the two have gone after each other…
Rajon Rondo wiping his sweat all over the ball before Draymond attempted his second free throw gotta be the pettiest thing ive ever seen 😂 pic.twitter.com/AoKkBPAXJr
— 🚁Sky Wob🚁 (@World_Wide_Wob) May 2, 2018
And Charles Barkley may be on to something…
Charles Barkley really wants Rajon Rondo to punch Draymond Green in the face pic.twitter.com/7CFX536Kl2
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) May 2, 2018
Rondo says he’s not baiting Green:
Rajon Rondo on Draymond Green: "I don't try to bait him into anything. He talks a lot of sh––. It's just part of it. We're competing." pic.twitter.com/DuQRXriei0
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 5, 2018
And Green reciprocated the thought, insisting he’s just ballin’ out there:
Draymond Green not happy w/ idea he's "baiting" Rajon Rondo: ""It ain't Draymond this time. I've baited a lot of guys. I succeeded quite a bit… At some point somebody gotta tell the truth, I know that's not the DNA these days… I'm chilling. Playing basketball." pic.twitter.com/yT7uwBQ0zk
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 5, 2018
Draymond, “just chilling”? Draymond Green wouldn’t be chill if you dipped him in liquid nitrogen.
As to the game itself, Golden State got destroyed. They were down 26 toward the end of the game, closing the gap to 19 in garbage time. They made 38 percent of their shots and 29 percent of their threes against 50 and 45.2 for the winners.
Three Pelicans between them (Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic, and Rondo) had 41 rebounds, Rondo became the only player to get 20 assists in a playoff game twice in the last decade; he’d previously been the only player since Steve Nash in 2007 to do it at all.
Green nearly notched a triple-double (11 points, 12 boards, nine assists) but had a team-worst (tied with Steph) minus-25 in his 36 minutes.
In other words, the underdog won Game 3 when the favorite opened the road act by playing like complete trash.
When does a guy score four points and make man of the match? When he’s Rajon Pierre Rondo, that’s when. He was born to play in New Orleans; he shares his middle name with the mascot.
21 assists, 10 rebounds!
— NBA (@NBA) May 5, 2018
Meanwhile, in Utah…
Here’s your expert statistical analysis: The Houston Rockets were good at basketball and the Utah Jazz were bad at basketball. End of analysis.
But seriously, Donovan Mitchell played like his wrists were broken every time he took a shot, going 4-of-16. Joe Ingles followed up the best game of his career with one of the worst, shooting 2-of-10 and turning the ball over five times.
Utah lost the turnover battle 16-8. They lost the shooting percentage battle 48.8 to 41.7…and that was with the Rockets shooting just 30.6 percent beyond the arc.
Yes, the Rockets, who “only shoot threes” according to the barbershop Barkleys, shot 62 percent on two-pointers, hitting 31-of-50, and got to the line to hit 18-of-20 from there.
James Harden and Chris Paul were actually garbage in this game; they scored 40 points but needed to overcome a 14-of-34 shooting night between them in order to bail themselves out (they were a combined 9-of-9 from the line.)
And anyone who says Harden doesn’t play defense hasn’t seen him play since Mike D’Antoni got a hold of him. Yes, THAT Mike D’Antoni, whose Suns teams were middle-of-the-road in defensive efficiency and whose Knicks teams couldn’t guard a corpse.
Harden was plus-29.
But speaking of plus-minus, how about Trevor Ariza?
Ariza had 11 points, three rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block in 28 minutes, not exactly lighting up anyone’s DraftKings lineup.
But he was plus-40. FORTY. The Rockets, in the 20 minutes Ariza sat, were outscored by 19 points.
All that adds up to a spectacular 113-92 win as the Rockets seized home court back from a hopeful Jazz team that now must not only hold serve but win again on the road in order to have any chance of taking this series in six…which, considering Game 7 is in Houston, is the only way they’re taking this series at all.
And let’s face it, they don’t have to drain all or even most of their shots to be the men of the match, it’s CP3 and the Beard:
— NBA (@NBA) May 5, 2018
Back Monday; even God gets Sunday off, so no Special during the playoffs on Sunday. Six days is enough. Glad you’re here to enjoy it, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!