After watching his team
“We are who we are, and we’re pretty good at it,”
As adjustments go, “just be better” isn’t exactly the most tactically savory button to push. But when the dudes on the bench actually put it into practice, it can be pretty damn effective.
The Rockets might not have totally overhauled their identity in two days, but they did play a different brand of basketball on Wednesday night, playing with a level of force, pace and defensive intensity that they rarely sniffed in Game 1. The result: significantly improved ball and player movement, cranked-up playmaking and more confident shooting, and absolute domination of the defending NBA champions, as the Rockets rampaged to a
After scoring a game-high 41 points in Monday’s loss,
Eric Gordon hit two 3-pointers right after checking into the game in the first quarter and never looked back, scoring 27 points (8-for-15 from the field, 6-for-9 from 3-point land) in 37 minutes off the bench. Defensive stalwart P.J. Tucker, who missed the only three shots he took in Game 1, found his touch from the corners on Wednesday, drilling five of his six deep tries and eight of nine overall to score a career-playoff-high 22 points, along with eight rebounds, four assists and a steal in a commanding two-way performance.
Trevor Ariza shook off a foul-trouble-filled Game 1 to make his presence felt, too. The veteran swingman added 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting with six assists, four rebounds and two steals for the Rockets, who shot 51.1 percent from the floor as a team, drilled 16 of their 42 3-point tries, and flat-out outplayed the Warriors from virtually the opening tip. Houston led for the final 39 minutes of game time, by double figures for the final 29, and by as many as 29 during a fourth-quarter barrage that forced the Warriors to yield, empty the bench and start thinking about how to get back on track after a long flight back home.
Kevin Durant remained
With the exception of his drives against Rockets big man Clint Capela on switches, Stephen Curry struggled mightily to get anything going on offense, needing 19 shots to score 17 points and not making a 3-pointer until a minute into the fourth quarter. Draymond Green was sloppy and disjointed from the start, turning down layups and coughing the ball up. Klay Thompson saw those wide-open 3-pointers he’d drilled in Game 1 dry up thanks to more attentive Houston switching and more determined transition defense; he managed just eight points on 3-for-11 shooting, his lowest scoring output in
ecame a slowed-down, predictable, one-and-done half-court offense. With Golden State misfiring and not busting it back in transition, Houston became