The Houston Rockets had a massive opportunity to outscore the San Antonio Spurs before tripping in overtime in Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinal series in the 2017 NBA Playoffs. That's not to say they are a better team without Leonard. "They played well at the offensive end with a lot of sense and defensively it was one of our best nights".
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Leonard asked to stay in the game but the staff made the decision to sit him.
Well, the Rockets are catching a break with Kawhi Leonard sitting out tonight's Game 6 at the Toyota Center. While turning to run up the court late in the third quarter, Leonard came down on the foot of Rockets guard James Harden and turned his ankle in the process.
Simmons responded by scoring 10 points on 5-for-13 shooting in 26 minutes.
Coach Popovich obviously did not like what he saw out of Leonard in practice, though.
"It's not an empirical formula", Popovich told reporters after the shootaround. "We just see where it goes".
The Spurs suffered what could be a series-changing injury to their star and outside MVP chance Kawhi Leonard.
"I don't know", he said.
"I just missed shots", Harden said.
"He was huge for us", Green said. But he looked OK.
For Houston, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Lou Williams and Clint Capela combined to score 35 points in Game 5.
The explosive Rockets scored only 22 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. Ginobili capped his splendid performance with a block on Harden's 3-point shot at the buzzer. Jonathon Simmons has been announced as the starter.
Prior to that, Hilario was playing a key role in the Rockets rotation.
Mills had a stellar game in the Game 5 victory, finishing with 20 points and four assists.
But against the Rockets this series, Simmons has averaged 12.2 points, almost doubling his season average of 6.2 points. If the Rockets force a game 7 against San Antonio, the Warriors won't play until next Tuesday.
"Some nights, life hits you in the face", Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Houston's another story and we'll meet back here (San Antonio) and try again".
He increased those numbers to 27.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists during the postseason. "It was like flipping a coin. It fell on our side and now we're going to Houston 3-2, so we're in a good situation".