The injury happened in the first quarter as Nene dunked the ball and started to struggle while walking away.
The smaller lineup created mismatches for Houston and had the Spurs scrambling on defense throughout the second half.
Houston is pushed to the brink of playoff elimination by San Antonio after a 110-107 overtime loss in Game 5 on Tuesday. "Keep pressing them, go up 50 if we can".
Finally, the Spurs aren't comfortable (or equipped) to play at a fast pace for long stretches of games, while the Rockets enjoy playing in transition and at a fast rate. D'Antoni led the Rockets to 55 wins in his first season in Houston, trying for the fourth-most victories in franchise history.
Tonight's game is at San Antonio, with Game 6 scheduled for Houston, and the deciding Game 7 if it's needed back in San Antonio.
Game 4 is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. EDT.
Addressing potential adjustments and changes for the San Antonio Spurs in their upcoming Game 5 against the Houston Rockets. While game two showed some signs of glimmering hope for the Spurs it ended with one devastating play.
His status for the Game 5 was unknown.
It's San Antonio's turn to be the aggressor.
Spurs: Rookie Dejounte Murray had eight points in his second game in the starting lineup since Tony Parker suffered a season-ending leg injury in Game 3.
HollywoodLifers, who will you be rooting for in this crucial game 5? Without that epic performance, we may not even be talking about the Rockets in this round.
"I think our energy was just up no matter what", Harden said. San Antonio meanwhile played the final minutes of regulation and the overtime period without Leonard, who appeared to twist his left ankle during a drive in the third quarter. "Some guys are going to have to play a little more minutes".
Nene's minutes will likely go to a combination of Montrezl Harrell and Chinanu Onuaku.
It wasn't always Harden's fault; in one instance, he kept waiting for a screen that never came, forcing him into a contested three late in the shot clock.
Nene played as if rejuvenated (9.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg) in his first season with the Rockets after five in Washington and ranks as Houston's senior veteran. But that's as close as the visitors got.
But it was a frustrating night for Harden, who led the scoring for the Rockets with 33 points and a triple-double but was unable to provide his team with the breakthrough in overtime. Cory Joseph filled in admirably for Kyle Lowry as he finished with 20 points and 12 assists.
"It's got nothing to do with Dejounte", Popovich said of the move. "That's something to keep an eye on".
"It was that bad". The Rockets led 70-59, but with the team trailing its Western Conference Semifinal 2-1, there was a great deal of uneasiness from the people in the stands wearing white giveaway t-shirts. "They were that focused and they were that professional, and we were not". The Spurs want to slow things down and run sets, and they'll win if they force the Rockets to do the same.
In those five minutes, Harden went 0-of-3 shooting, with a single assist and three turnovers. They averaged just 11.5 3s in the two losses, shooting 31.5 percent. "It shouldn't get us by surprise".
You know your night is going swimmingly when shots like this fall. They make you pay.