The Heartbreaking (Loss) History of Houston Sports

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Photo by Adam Baker
Winning isn't everything, especially here.
The Rockets went down in dramatic fashion Friday night, losing on a Damian Lillard three-point shot with 0.9 left on the clock. The shot happened because the Rockets played bad defense in the clutch, just as they did through most of the series. They also lost because Portland did something the Rockets have trouble doing, running a play that was drawn up by a head coach during a timeout.

But as painful as the loss was, it's just another of the memorable losses in the history of Houston professional sports. There's the Oilers losing to the Broncos behind one of John Elways patented last minute drives. There's the Oilers blowing a 35-3 second half lead to the Buffalo Bills and a second-string quarterback.

The 1980 Astros blew a two games to one lead to the Philadelphia Phillies in a best-of-five series that would have sent the team to its first ever World Series. The 1986 Astros were up by 3 runs in the ninth inning of game six to the New York Mets with Mike Scott waiting in the wings for game seven. And lets not forget John Stockton's dagger to doom the Rockets in the 1997 Conference Finals.


The Rockets dominated the Trail Blazers for most of the series, spurting out to big lead in game after game. But superstar James Harden disappeared time and time again. Jeremy Lin was useless in the clutch. Dwight Howard's inability to hit free throws further doomed the team, and Kevin McHale was once again at a strategic disadvantage as his opposing coach did the unthinkable by making in-game adjustments and drawing up game-ending plays that involved more than just giving the ball to James Harden and watching him dribble the ball with no clear objective before attempting a bad shot.

This must all be part of the DNA of Houston sports. Favored teams suffering major upsets. Lovable underdogs coming up just shy. There's the Mike Renfro reception in the end zone being ruled an incomplete pass. There was 7'4" Ralph Sampson throwing a punch at 6'1" Celtic guard Jerry Sichting. There was the Atlanta Braves serving as a constant roadblock to the Astros and Jim Edmonds throwing himself all over centerfield to rob the Astros in 2004. And the one time the Astros actually made the World Series, the team was embarrassed.


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10 comments
Didier_LeMan
Didier_LeMan

The offense worked best when Lin was running it. Watch those games again and see what happens when the he's got the ball. Then you'll get why there's a lot of frustration and defensiveness about Lin. Unless you prefer watching Harden play hero ball and defend like Gary Payton...

quintah
quintah

Shout out to all the Lin apologists out there. It will do you a lot of good when you're watching him come off the bench for another team. Did he blow the game where he had not 1, but 2 attempts at securing a ball that more than likely would have won the game for the Rockets? Maybe. Did he play well in game 5? Yes, but he was not the deciding factor; it was Howard. I saw someone taking stabs at Pat Beverly's D...yeah, honestly tell me you'll take Lin's D over Pat's. In that universe Lin doesn't: A) fall for the pump fake, B) get taken to the cleaners on a drive or C) fall to the floor. Right?


I think McHale sucks as an X's and O's kind of guy, but his assistants should have been working harder to make the proper adjustments in that case. Kevin is a player's coach much in the line of Rudy T., but the difference is that Rudy had Olajuwon and later Drexler, while all McHale has is Howard. Harden is a scoring machine, but I've seen better defense from a pinata (at least it sways). 


Rockets need a real point guard and a coach who does more than "stay the course". I believe Morey and the rest of the front office have what it takes to make the necessary changes so that the team can make a deeper run next year. After all, this is only year 1 of the Howard experiment in Houston.

Gaspar_Ramsey
Gaspar_Ramsey

Can't watch them without being held up by Comcast, so who really cares? 

atoznotnow
atoznotnow

"Jeremy Lin was useless in the clutch"? Is a bench player supposed to take over in the clutch? Jeremy Lin was not even in the game in the last play. Also, if McHale is a great coach and Beverley is next to god in defense, why wasn't Beverley guarding Lillard in the last play? Does McHale really know that the snake oil he is selling (Beverley's defense) doesn't really work? But, let's blame the Asian kid.

MoveToDallasCreeps
MoveToDallasCreeps

The new breed of bandwagon jumping Texans fan are the worst. Booing? Burning the quarterback's jersey in effigy because he lost a game? They're nothing but petulant little diaper babies, and don't deserve a winning team. The Oilers were never treated like this.

MoveToDallasCreeps
MoveToDallasCreeps

The new breed of bandwagon jumping Texans fan are the worst. Booing? Burning the quarterback's jersey in effigy because he lost a game? They're nothing but petulant little diaper babies, and don't deserve a winning team. The Oilers were never treated like this. Hell, for that matter, David Carr was never treated like that, and he was genuinely awful.

garcia_juan_mezcal
garcia_juan_mezcal

"Jeremy Lin was useless in the clutch." I am far from a Lin fan, didn't like the signing, nor do I believe he will (or should) be here next year. This said, despite his unfortunate decision at the close of game 4, and missed free throws in game 6, you have to look at both sides of Lin in this series. Clearly, we don't win game five without Lin. And you conveniently forget that Lin made a great hustle play and assist to Daniels for a critical 3-pointer in game three in Portland. I know it's easy to pile on, parrot the masses and scapegoat – a guy like you prefers to do that versus think for yourself – but Lin did have some positive moments in this series. Stop thinking like a child. There are shades of gray.

PDiddie
PDiddie

And with all of that ineptitude, the wealthy owners got even wealthier while the taxpayers foot the bill for their playpens.  Bud Adams is worm dirt, the Oilers have been in Tennessee for almost 20 years, and we're still paying off bonds on the poor old Astrodome.


Clue to the last living fans of Vince Lombardi: winning isn't everything. It might be nothing, in fact.


Meanwhile, somebody is slaving over one final mock draft.

Didier_LeMan
Didier_LeMan

It might also do you a lot of good to see yet another point guard McHale has wasted. And don't forget that Lin hit a 3 pointer at 0:48 that was negated by Asik's dumb foul. That would make it three games he was clutch. Also, I think he actually needs the ball in his hands to be clutch no? And of course, he needs to actually be in the game too. But the kid could win all FOUR games for you and you'd still miss the point. He held Lillard to 0 pts in 4th qtr but you still want to talk about Beverly's defense? You're like McHale but more useless.

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