The Houston Rockets are one win away from making the NBA finals after a 98-94 win against the Golden State Warriors in Houston last night, but the pivotal victory came with a high price tag, with one of Houston's two best players forced from the game with a hamstring injury.
Point guard Chris Paul hobbled off the court with just one minute left in regulation and his availability for game six in Oakland is very much in question, and if the injury is serious it could compromise his ability to play in the finals, should the Rockets be able to complete the upset of the favored Warriors.
Paul was relatively quiet in this game, scoring 20 points, but he did score 7 in the fourth quarter to spur a 10-5 Houston run that helped win he game. The other half of that dynamic duo, James Harden, was also uncharacteristically subdued on the scoreboard, adding 19 but putting up a goose egg on eleven 3-point attempts. But as so often happens in the playoffs, a reserve player emerged with heroics, in this case Erioc Gordon, whop came off the Houston bench to score 24 points and it was Gordon who made a steal on Golden State's final possession of the game to salt the win away.
But now all eyes will be on Paul to see if he can play in game six and if Houston can make the finals for the first time since 1995. Golden State for its part is looking to make the finals for a fourth consecutive year but they'll have to find a way to fight through the aggressive defense Hosuton has shown over the last two back to back wins. Steph Curry had 22 points last night and Kevin Durant poured in 29 but while those totals would be impressive for most players they're relatively low for those two superstars and no doubt coach Steve Kerr would like to see his team get more contributions from bench players like the Rickets did from Gordon in game five.
And tonight in Cleveland the Boston Celtics will try to become the team that either Houston or Golden State will meet in the finals, but they'll have to do something they haven't been able to yet in their series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that's win on the road. Boston is just one win away from defying the odds and the doubters who said there was no way the could compete for the title this yar without the services of star forward Kyrie Irving, but they're right in the cusp now. Of course, a fellow named LeBron James will be doing everything in his considerable power to prevent that from happening on his home court tnighht.
To major league baseball and after a couple of strong starts for the Boston Red Sox, former Cy Young ward winner Rick Porcello turned in a clunker against the Tampa Bay Rays last night, lasting just 3 and two thirds while giving up four earned runs in a 6-3 loss. Porcello kept falling behind hitters, and loaded the bases in the first and second innings as the Rays built up an early 6-0 lead. On the other side Blake Snell was having no trouble at all with the Boston line-up, holding the Red Sox scoreless for six innings, giving up just three hits while striking out eight. Snell likes facing the Red Sox as he's now 2-0 against Boston in three starts against them this season. Wilson Ramos drove in two runs for the Rays and Boston's three runs didn't come until the ninth against reliever Matt Andriese, who yielded a solo home run to Mitch Moreland and a two-run double to Rafael Devers before Alex Colome came on to close out the game.
The Sox return to Boston tonight for an inter-league match-up against the N.L. east leading Atlanta Braves, one of the biggest surprises so far this season with a very young team that seems to be punching above its weight. Julio Teheran starts for Atlanta against Eduardo Rodriguez for Boston.
The NY Yankees were idle last night. They host the L.A. Angels at the Stadium tonight.
The NY Mets got a boost on offense from Brandon Nimmo, who tripled, hit two doubles, and reached base all five times he came to bat in a 5-0 shut-out win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Stephen Matz pitched six scoreless innings for New York, giving up just four hits in his best start for the Mets this season.
In Toronto, the L.A. Angels got solo home runs from Albert Pujols and Mike Trout and rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani doubled twice in an 8-1 rout of the Blue Jays.
And finally, a follow-up to the news that broke yesterday about the NFL crafting new rules that state any players who don't want to stand during the National Anthem at games next season must stay in the locker room during the song. The NFL said the decision was made after a unanimous vote by the team's 32 owners. Turns out that's not true. The owner of the San Francisco 49ers says he abstained from that decision, which was determined by a questionnaire the league sent to the owners, it wasn't even a vote. And for his part, NY Jets owner Chris Johnson says if any player on the Jets wants to kneel during the anthem he will not levy a fine against that player, and will pay any penalty directed at his team as a result out of his own pocket, in order for his players to be able to exercise their first amendment free speech rights.