Having lost the first two games of their playoff series against the Trail Blazers, the Rockets could hardly afford to go to Portland and drop Game 3, as well. So to whom did Houston turn for a season-saving shot, late in overtime, and in the face of a rabid enemy crowd?
Why, Troy Daniels, of course. As in, the undrafted rookie who spent most of the season in the NBA Development League, made his first appearance for the Rockets on March 5, played all of 76 regular season minutes for Houston, and sat out the first two playoff games entirely.
You know, that guy. So there was no reason to think that he’d be on the court at all during overtime of a must-win game, let alone doing something like this:
No wonder ESPN announcer Mike Breen called Daniels an “unlikely hero.” But perhaps Daniels’s experience at VCU, where he became a star in Coach Shaka Smart’s ‘Havoc’ scheme, prepared him to remain calm when chaos broke out on the Moda Center court. Certainly, his months spent with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s NBDL affiliate and Moneyball-strategy laboratory, appear to have paid off. Daniels broke the D-League record for three-pointers with weeks left in the season, so he may just have been the perfect person to have stationed at the three-point line with 12 seconds left in overtime.
Houston mega-star James Harden put his name in the record books during the game…
James Harden is the 1st player in NBA postseason history with at least 35 field-goal attempts, including 10 3-point attempts, in a win.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 26, 2014
… but the previously unknown Daniels is the Rocket everyone is talking about after the game.