Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Rockets Fall

Grammatical Introduction: the three words that comprise the title of this entry constitute a sentence, albeit one where the end punctuation has been omitted. Oddly, if we add not end punctuation but an apostrophe – either before or after the “s” – this little expression would no longer qualify as a sentence. “Fall” would morph from a verb (i.e. what the team has done) to a noun (the name we give to the circumstances which have befallen the team).

The conundrum here befits the NBA’s Gulf Coast franchise today, as they must be wondering how it is that they are no longer “standing” in the league’s post-season tournament. They’ve thrown down six times in the past two weeks with their brethren from Oregon and outscored Terry Stotts’s Trail Blazers 672 - 670 overall. Huh?

It’s not particularly unusual in a competitive seven-game series for the losers to edge out the victors on the cumulative scoreboard. San Antonio’s Finals point total topped Miami’s 684-679 last season. The most famous such imbalance occurred in the 1960 World Series, when the beaten Yankees more than doubled the run total (55-27) of the victorious Pirates.

In 2012, both Los Angeles teams won seven-game opening round series despite scoring fewer overall points. Last season, the Pacers repelled New York in six games to advance to the Conference Final even though each team notched exactly 537 overall points.

The Rockets and Blazers, with the aid of three overtime games, treated us to one of the more high-scoring series in recent memory. The circumstances were quite different the last time a six-game loser held the overall scoring edge. In that 2011 series, either team topped 90 points only three times in 12 tries, once in defeat. The average score was 88.7 - 86.8, 532 – 521 in total points. Similar to this season’s anomaly, the vanquished held an edge in free throw attempts and rebounds.

The most glaring similarity between the Houston Rockets and the likewise fourth-seeded Orlando Magic who fell to the Atlanta Hawks in 2011 is the starting center.