The Heartbreaking (Loss) History of Houston Sports
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.
Photo by Adam Baker Winning isn't everything, especially here.
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.