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Rockets seize Game 2 with rally over Thunder - Apr 20, 2017


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James Harden
The Rockets took the best shot the Thunder could land. Russell Westbrook (6'3''-PG-88, college: UCLA) relentlessly flew into the NBA record books again, chewing up pages as he had the Rockets defense, and the Rockets were staggered, but not down. The Thunder muscle was pounding and pounding away inside and the Rockets were stunned, but not out. Oklahoma City was not just rolling, the Thunder was exhibiting everything from its greatest hits collection. The Rockets, however, did not flinch. The Rockets took the hardest from-the-heels punch the Thunder had and then hit back, slowing Westbrook, firing 3s and surging past the Thunder, 115-111, with the most stubbornly determined, dogged comeback win Wednesday at Toyota Center. Rallying from down 15 in the first half and from as much as 12 late in the fourth quarter, the Rockets took a 10-point lead on the way to a 2-0 series lead. With the first-round series headed to Oklahoma City for Friday's Game 3, teams leading 2-0 have gone 364-24 in the NBA playoffs. There was little mystery about how they did it. "It comes down to the heart and soul and the want of the players," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "They showed their resilience, like they showed all year. "It didn't surprise me. Whatever these guys do collectively as a group, it doesn't surprise me. I just told them, "a great game, a great gut-check kind of win.' You have to have those in the playoffs. You can't play great all the time. We just hung in there, hung in there. "I can't explain it. They've done it all year." As Westbrook soared to the first 50-point triple-double in NBA playoffs history, the Rockets did just enough to rally to within six at halftime and to within three heading into the fourth quarter. They had outscored the Thunder, 12-3, in the final 2 minutes of the third quarter when Westbrook took a seat. When he returned, the Rockets had Trevor Ariza (6'8''-F-85, college: UCLA) on him, a wall of defenders in front of him and a defense finally up to stopping him. Westbrook had spent the game darting around screens to stop-on-a-dime jumpers and knife-blade drives to the rim. In the fourth quarter, however, he made just 4 of 18 shots, the most misses ever in the fourth quarter of a playoff game, including a pair of buckets after the Rockets' lead had swelled to a safe 10 with 1:22 left. "That's what you have to do," said Ariza, who led the fourth quarter defensive effort on Westbrook. "You have to find ways to get stops, find ways to win. He's going to score a lot of points. He takes the majority of shots on his team. He's going to find ways to get his, so if we can limit everybody else. We have a good chance." Once the Rockets had Westbrook under control, the Thunder made just 24.1 percent of its fourth-quarter shots. Westbrook finished with 51 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, but was held to a field goal percentage of less than 40 percent. "There's no doubt about it; 17 of 43, we'll take that," D'Antoni said. The Rockets began to rally when James Harden (6'5''-SG-89, college: Arizona St.) scored 12 of their final 14 points of the third quarter and Patrick Beverley (6'1''-PG-88, college: Arkansas) and Eric Gordon (6'4''-G-88, college: Indiana) stepped up in the fourth. On a night in which Westbrook could not find enough help, Harden scored 35 points with eight assists as the Rockets kept searching until they found scorers around him. Gordon and Louis Williams (6'1''-SG-86) combined for 23 points, with Williams keeping the Rockets in the game in the first half and Gordon helping to take it over in the second. "Early in the first half, they were getting offensive rebounds," Gordon said. "Of course, we're going to be a great offensive team and that's always going to keep us in it." When the Rockets trailed by 12 with 15 minutes left in the game, they had made 4 of 18 3s. They made 7 of 11 the rest of the way. "We've got so many guys to choose from," D'Antoni said. Somebody's going to come out and do something." Mostly, the Rockets just persevered, tightening the defense and firing away until they caught a wave as if they always knew they would. "We didn't give up," Harden said. "We continued to grind and fight and figure a way to win."
Courtesy of: chron.com   




Jim Boylan
Cavaliers Part Ways With Jim Boylan, Phil Handy - 1 day ago
The Cleveland Cavaliers will not renew the contracts of assistant coach Jim Boylan and player development coach Phil Handy . The Cavaliers will promote player development coach Dan Geriot to full time assistant coach and Damon Jones will assume a more robust assistant coaching role. The shake ups of the Cavaliers' coaching staff come before the free agency of LeBron James. Courtesy of: realgm.com   [read more]

Rudy Gay
Rudy Gay opting out, will become unrestricted free agent - 1 day ago
San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay (6'8''-F/G-86, college: Connecticut) is declining his 2018-19 player option to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, league sources tell ESPN. Gay is turning down a salary of $8.8 million in order to hit free agency. The 31-year-old veteran signed a two-year, $17 million deal with the Spurs in the offseason of 2017, and the deal contained a player option on the second year. For the first time in his 11-year NBA career, Gay served in a reserve ca...   [read more]

Jamal
Crawford
Sources: Jamal Crawford declines $4.5M player option with Timberwolves - 1 day ago
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jamal Crawford (6'5''-G-80, college: Michigan) has declined his $4.5 million player option for next season and will become a free agent, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Crawford, a three-time Sixth Man of theYear, will become one of the top reserve scorers on the open market after facing Monday's deadline to decide on his option. In his 18th NBA season, Crawford averaged 10.3 points and 20.7 minutes in 80 contests, marking his 16th consecutive year that he s...   [read more]


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