Welcome to my blog! From time to time, I'll be posting updates, previews from games and sessions or whatever I feel like talking about on here! :-)
On March 30th, the Houston Rockets hosted the Phoenix Suns in an NBA regular season contest. With the top spot in the Western Conference locked up, the Rockets went up against Phoenix, who was sporting the league's worst record. On paper, it seemed like an easy affair for the Rockets, even without Chris Paul or Eric Gordon in the lineup.
The game was proved to be anything but a breeze for Houston as Phoenix rode some hot shooting and balanced team play enroute to building a 17 point halftime lead. The Suns even stretched their advantage to 21 points in the third quarter before the Rockets fought back, eventually tying the score on a three-point shot by James Harden with 12 seconds left in regulation, 101-101. Then craziness ensued.
With an entire arena rooting against them, the Suns stayed calm and took the lead on a Josh Jackson jump shot with 1.4 seconds left, forcing a Houston timeout. After advancing the ball to halfcourt, the Rockets looked to get the ball to James Harden, whom was double-teamed by two Suns' defenders. The double-team subsequently freed up Houston guard Gerald Green, who was wide open behind the three-point line in front of the Rockets' bench. After taking the inbounds pass, Green calmly reached back and fired a three-point shot, a shot that splashed through the net as time expired. The resulting three-pointer gave Houston a 104-103 victory, setting off a wild celebration on the court and in the stands.
All images copyright 2018 Erik Williams/USA Today Sports Images
There are very few assignments or jobs these days that I get truly excited for, but this past weekend was an exception as I was assigned to cover the NBA game between the Houston Rockets the Boston Celtics. There were so many storylines surrounding this game, most notably the Rockets holding the best record in the league and riding a 14-game win streak. It was also a game where Houston was looking for revenge as the Celtics beat them in Boston earlier in the year. And to top it off, the game was shown on ABC as part of the NBA Saturday Night Showcase, meaning a national audience would be tuning in. And the game didn’t disappoint in the slightest.
The game got off to a fast start as both teams were hitting their shots early on. Houston built an eight point lead, 28-20, before Boston closed the quarter on a 12-2 run to lead, 32-30. The Celtics continued rolling in the second quarter as their bench led the way with baskets all over the court, frustrating Houston’s defense. Boston’s lead reached as high as nine points (47-38) before Houston was able to tie it at 50-all with four minutes left. Again, the Celtics closed strong to go into halftime leading, 64-58.
Boston was able to keep the Rockets at bay during the third quarter, pushing their lead as high as eight points (70-62) before Houston countered by hitting two straight three-pointers (74-73), forcing a timeout with 5:51 left. As the play got more physical, the Celtics started to flounder as Houston eventually took the lead, 75-74. The Rockets’ lead was short-lived as the Celtics kept attacking inside AND out. The back-and-forth third quarter ended with Boston leading, 89-86, paced by their bench who had 45 points.
Both teams showed no signs of slowing down in the fourth quarter, but the Celtics’ bench kept Houston at arm’s length for the majority of the fourth quarter, and Boston still lead 113-107 with four minutes left. From that point on, the Rockets tightened the screws defensively, forcing two turnovers leading to five points in less than twenty seconds to take the lead, 117-115. After a plethora of free-throws, the Rockets sweated out a last-second miss to win the game, 123-120. Even with both James Harden and Kyrie Irving having so-so nights (Irving had 18 points on 6-for-17 shooting while Harden scored 26 points on 6-for-18 shooting), the play of the benches and the action down the stretch gave the matchup some real spice and flavor (Boston’s bench scored 67 points while Eric Gordon for the Rockets scored 29 points, 13 of which came in the fourth quarter).
Well, what more can be said? The game this past Saturday night didn’t just live up to the hype, it exceeded it and it could be a possible preview of the NBA Finals in three months’ time. A back-and-forth game, intense atmosphere, great crowd, it was a real privilege to be at the forefront of history once again.
All images copyright 2018 Erik Williams/USA Today Sports Images
Greetings and salutations, I hope this finds everyone well. Been a while since my last entry, but it’s been hard finding the words after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in late August. While I was fortunately enough to not personally be affected, the suffering that others went through and have gone through was not lost on me. I certainly hope that everyone who has been affected by this is on the road to recovery.
Anyways, with October here, football season is in full swing among other things, and I’ve been hitting all over town shooting the Houston Texans, Rice University and the University of Houston. One of the games I’ve shot was the 2017 Bayou Bucket game between Rice and UH, and while the game was essentially over by halftime, it did bring back memories of the 2007 Bayou Bucket game between the Cougars and Owls, which was played 10 years ago today. It was a game that I will remember fondly for a myriad of reasons.
A quick summation: On a sunny Saturday afternoon at old Robertson Stadium, the Houston Cougars and Rice Owls battled each other in a game that saw nearly 1,200 yards of combined offense and 15 touchdowns between the two teams. Houston jumped out to a 28-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, only to see Rice battle back across the second and third quarters, scoring 34 of the game’s next 41 points. The Owls held a 48-35 lead heading into the final quarter only to see the Cougars roar back, both literally and figuratively, scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win, 56-48. (Oh, and for Cougar football buffs, it should come as no surprise that the comeback win was led by the legendary Case Keenum, but I digress LOL) For anyone watching the game in the stands, it was a heart-stopping affair with more twists and turns than a rollercoaster ride. But for me shooting the game, it was unlike anything I had experienced in my young career, at the time. (Oh a quick side note, it also was memorable because I covered the entire game while dealing with a sinus infection that left me bed-ridden the day before. )
Back in 2007, I was still trying to make a name for myself and was unsure of a real direction and purpose in photography. While certain jobs were enjoyable, I had no clue if this was something I wanted to do, long-term, and on a higher level. But this game was such a spark for me, a spark that changed my entire outlook and purpose going forward. Shooting that game and getting the images that I did, it convinced me that this is something I wanted to do long-term. And that desire got into me, like a highly addictive substance.
I’ve always regarded this game as the greatest college football game I’ve ever covered thus far, and a whole decade later, it still rings true for me. It wasn’t just an intense and memorable game, it was the game that led me to be a devotee to photography and set me on the path to where I am now. I do wish it wasn’t as expensive as narcotics at times, but that’s a rant for another day. Point is, just stay true to your hopes and goals, no matter the roads they lead to. It may take a decade to get to where you want, but keep walking the path and you WILL get there.
With that, I thank you for your attention and support. I hope to have another entry ready by November. Thank you for your time, and fare thee well. One last note, this blog entry is dedicated to my late grandfather, Connell Linson, Sr. Without your gratitude, kindness and generosity, I wouldn’t have become the professional I am now, and days like that sunny October day a decade ago wouldn’t have been possible.
All images copyright 2007 Erik Williams
Greetings and salutations all, I hope this finds everyone well. It's been a very hot summer down in Southeast Texas and busier than usual for me, so I hadn't been able to keep up with the blog until this week. There hasn't been much to share since the last week of May, when I made my annual pilgrimage out to Sugar Land, TX for the Southland Conference Baseball Championship tournament at Constellation Field. This was the third straight year and fourth in the last five that I covered the tournament as the Southland's photographer, and it was a job that I'd been looking forward to once again. And I was a tad smarter this time around, securing a second shooter for some of the action on Thursday and Friday. Unlike the 2016 tournament, this year's action was not marred at all by the weather, which was great. The only issue with the weather was the heat and the crappy air, which contributed to my allergies flaring up like crazy. It sapped my strength and hindered me for the first two days, but thanks to some Claritin-D, Benadryl and a little bit of help from one of my associates, covering the action on Friday and Saturday was much better.
Anyways, the on-field action was as intense as ever with conference and personal storylines abound, such as the return of the Houston Baptist Huskies to the Southland tournament (two years after winning the title) or the top two seeds (McNeese State and Southeastern Louisiana) getting beaten before Friday's semifinal games. Strangely enough, the one team that flew under the radar from the outset was the Sam Houston Bearkats, the defending Southland Champions. Despite being the third seeded team, they were ultra confident as they easily won their first three games to advance to the championship final. In the title game, the Bearkats faced off against the Central Arkansas Bears, who were Southland champions themselves in 2013. Riding an early flurry of runs, Sam Houston outgunned the Bears to win the final and repeat as Southland tournament champions, advancing to the NCAA tournament (eventually making the Super Regional round).
Overall, despite my allergies not cooperating early on, I think I had the best tournament in my four times shooting the Southland Championships. The adulation and such from the various SIDs and the Southland media officials was always good, but I felt internally accomplished as well. It’s always satisfying to have a plan of attack, executing it and seeing the results come to fruition.
Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for this entry. Many special thanks to the Southland communications staff and Maria Lysaker for their tireless assistance. Thanks for reading and as always, fare the well!
All images copyright 2017 Erik Williams/Southland Conference Media Relations
Greetings and salutations, I hope this finds everyone well. I am sorry I haven’t had any blog entries to start 2017, but things have been rather crazy for me the last four months. And that craziness is thanks to a lot of basketball I had to cover in March, and a certain playoff game in April, but I’ll get to that later.
Basketball season is always an exciting time for me, because it’s my favorite sport to shoot, but this year I had a bit more action to cover from March onwards. In March, both Rice University basketball teams made it into postseason play, resulting in six extra games that I covered at Tudor Fieldhouse in the space of twelve days. While it got personally draining towards the end of that stretch, it did result in some pretty cool images from the action. Anyways, the men’s team had a good run in the CBI tournament, defeating San Francisco before falling to Utah Valley State. Meanwhile, the women’s team competed in the WBI tournament and ended up winning the title with victories over Lamar, UT-Rio Grande Valley, Idaho and UNC-Greensboro. I am confident that the two tournament runs will be the start of great things over on South Main for the Owls.
After the completion of Rice’s tournament play, I was fully expecting to be done with basketball until November. Then the NBA playoffs started, and I was assigned to cover Game 2 of the series between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. I was hovering between excited and being petrified, not from shooting an NBA game, but shooting an NBA playoff game featuring both James Harden and Russell Westbrook, two of the three leading candidates for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. Anyways, the game was rather entertaining as the Rockets won the game, despite trailing by as many as 14 points. While Westbrook had the bigger night (51 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds), Harden (35 points) came away victorious as the Rockets won 115-111 to take a 2-0 series lead. Houston eventually won the highly-anticipated series, 4-1 to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.
Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to for the first four months of the year, covering all the burning hardwood across town. (And may not be done yet, who knows.) Thank you for viewing and for your time, have a wonderful day and, until next time, fare thee well.
All images copyright 2017 Erik Williams/Rice Sports Information/USA Today Sports Images