90 minutes before the tip-off of game six, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said he was going to sit Kawhi Leonard due to the ankle he sprained 48 hours prior, so it seemed as if a game seven Sunday afternoon in San Antonio would be a near certainty. It won’t be, Thursday night, the Spurs embarrassed the Rockets 114-75, booking a trip to the Western Conference Finals.
The game was never really in doubt. LaMarcus Aldridge made a 2-footer with 9:18 left in the first quarter to give the Spurs a 6-5 lead, and they never gave it back. That started a 10-2 run to put San Antonio up seven, but the Rockets scored the next seven to tie the game, only to see the Spurs score the next seven, taking a 31-24 lead into the second quarter, where they quickly put the Rockets away.
A Lou Williams bucket started the second quarter, but San Antonio scored the next 13, and led by as many as 22 before the Rockets got the lead to 19 at halftime, and after the break, the Rockets still showed no signs of life.
Aldridge and Pau Gasol made back-to-back shots to start the quarter, and after Clint Capela split a pair of free throws, Alridge hit two more buckets to put the Spurs up 25, and the lead was never smaller than 20 the rest of the night with the advantage getting up to 42 at one point.
Aldridge led the Spurs with 34 points and 12 rebounds. Simmons, who took Leonard’s place in the starting lineup, scored 18. The Spurs shot 53 percent, assisting on 32-of-51 made baskets, committing just eight turnovers.
The Rockets shot just 29 percent from the field for the game, 21 percent in the second half, and were held to a season-low in points. They failed to hit the 100-point mark three times in the six games of this series.
Trevor Ariza led Houston in scoring with 20 points, while Clint Capela added 15 points and 11 rebounds, but the story of the game was the Rockets best player.
James Harden fouled out, but scored just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting, committing 6 turnovers. He did not attempt a shot in the first quarter, and took just two in the second quarter.
No other Rocket scored in double-figures with Ryan Anderson kept off the scoreboard on six shots in 25 minutes.
The loss ends a Rockets season that saw them go 55-27, a 14-game improvement from last season, and win their third playoff series in the Harden era.