Harden: Focusing on our sport, not Warriors

HOUSTON — With all due respect to the defending champion Golden State Warriors, James Harden is not involved in regards to the Houston Rockets‘ opponent within the Western Conference finals.

“We focus on what we’re supposed to do,” Harden stated after the Rockets evened the collection with a 127-105 win in Game 2 on Wednesday night time. “We don’t really worry about who we’re playing against. Like, if we come out and be some dogs and do what we did tonight, it doesn’t matter. But if we don’t, then we see the results in Game 1. It’s not about chess match or what they’re doing. It’s about us.”

Rockets ahead PJ Tucker, who starred in Game 2 with a playoff career-high 22 factors on Eight-of-9 capturing, shares Harden’s confidence that Houston can win this collection. But Tucker believes the Rockets, the staff with the NBA’s finest report at 65-17 this season, should embrace being the underdogs within the collection to finish the Warriors’ three-year reign as West champions.

“There’s no doubt about it, we’re the underdogs,” Tucker instructed ESPN. “They’re nonetheless the champs. They’re the champs till anyone beats them. We’re underdogs on this. People had been speaking about us getting swept and we have no shot. We’re the underdogs, and we have to maintain that mentality this complete collection.

“That nastiness, that is the one manner we’ll have a shot to win. We positively should play more durable than them. We’ve bought to play more durable and we have to play smarter.”

Houston’s improved depth — “extra drive,” as coach Mike D’Antoni put it — was constantly pointed to by the Rockets as the first distinction in Game 2.

“If the primary sport we had been at a 70, tonight we had been at a 95,” Harden said. “We had been fairly aggressive defensively, and that allowed us to get out in transition. If we be snug, sit again and simply enable them to get to their spots and run round freely, then they’ll choose us aside. But if we get into them and attempt to make it more durable on them, good issues will occur for us.”

The Rockets had a way more balanced scoring assault in Game 2 than they did within the collection opener, when Harden scored 41 factors in a 119-106 loss. He had 27 factors on 9-of-24 capturing in Game 2, and some Rockets position gamers had large scoring nights. Sixth man Eric Gordon (27 factors), small ahead Trevor Ariza (19 factors) and Tucker all had their highest-scoring video games of this postseason.

“Everything was fueled off our protection,” stated Gordon, who was Eight-of-15 from the ground and 6-of-9 from Three-point vary.

The Rockets, who cleaned up the psychological errors that allowed the Warriors to usually get wide-open appears to be like in Game 1, had been decided to play at a sooner tempo. They succeeded as a result of they had been capable of get extra defensive stops, together with forcing 15 turnovers. Houston had 12 fast-break factors — 4 instances as many as in Game 1 — and was capable of generate loads of offense early within the shot clock after having to grind out possessions within the opener.

“Then offense is simple,” Tucker said. “We haven’t got to consider it. We haven’t got to speak about offense. We have two of one of the best playmakers in NBA historical past in all probability and Eric Gordon, guys who can assault the rim and actually shoot the ball. When we get stops on protection, we are able to get no matter we wish on offense.”

The Rockets had been particularly dominant defensively within the first quarter, after they held the Warriors to 21 factors. Golden State had virtually as many turnovers (seven) as made subject targets (9) and didn’t make a Three-point shot within the quarter.

“From the beginning, we had been extra aggressive as an alternative of permitting them to assault us first and us react,” said Ariza, who was 7-of-9 from the floor and had six assists. “I believe we reacted first and introduced the battle to them fairly than them hitting us first.”

Much of the media focus after Game 1 was on the Rockets’ isolation-heavy offense, which did not change in Game 2 apart from Houston pushing the tempo extra. According to Second Spectrum information, the Rockets ran 46 isolations in Game 2, yet another than they ran within the collection opener.

The focus for the Rockets’ coaches and gamers between video games was on enjoying more durable, smarter protection, which they think about the important thing to giving themselves an opportunity to beat Golden State.

“We know who we’re,” Tucker said. “We need not win a sport to know who we’re. We watched movie, and no one had something to say. We perceive. We get that. For us, it is simply enjoying how we play. We did not play Rocket basketball in Game 1. We all know that. We noticed it. We watched the clips.

“Our guys have pride. We knew that what we did that first game, we can’t do that again. Regardless of the outcome, we’re not going to play like that again.”

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