It was a lot of fun while it lasted, but with this afternoon's 70-89 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in game seven of the second round of the NBA playoffs, the Rockets' season has come to a close.
But I'm not too upset. In fact, I'm rather proud for them.
This is because I really thought that the Rockets would do well if they managed to avoid a sweep against the highly-talented, top-seeded Lakers, who won all four games between the two teams during the regular season. And that was with Yao Ming in the lineup. The fact that the Rockets managed to take this series to seven games, the last four of them without Yao, is truly remarkable. Whereas it can be argued that the previous few years' worth of Rockets teams underachieved during the playoffs by losing in the first round, it simply cannot be argued that this team overachieved.
It wasn't too long ago that the Rockets were an afterthought in the local sports scene. Those days are over. The local excitement that this team managed to generate over the last few weeks was reminicient of the Clutch City days of the mid-90s. The future looks bright, too; the team has a lot of young talent that simply needs more experience, and if (and this is a very big if) key players like Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady can stay healthy, the coming season could very well be a very good one for them.
So, while I would have loved to see an upset against the Lakers this afternoon, I'm not particularly upset that it didn't occur. They had a good season (53-29 in the regular season), they went a lot further than most people expected them to go in the postseason, and they have nothing to be ashamed of.