James Harden says Rockets are 'focused' on maintaining elevated pace the rest of Western Conference finals
The Rockets evened the series with a blowout win in Game 2 in Houston
The Rockets didn't take first place in the Western Conference by accident, and they're out to remind the NBA of as much. After James Harden and the Rockets dismantled the Warriors 127-105 in Game 2 to even the series, the Rockets let everyone know that this will be a series. The Warriors have been incredibly hot this postseason, but the Rockets are easily the best team they've played.
James Harden, who had 27 points and 10 boards in 34 minutes, said that the difference was that they played their own game.
"We focus on what we're supposed to do," Harden said on Wednesday after the Rockets' win, per ESPN. "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."
The way the Rockets won this game was through intensity.
"If the first game we were at a 70, tonight we were at a 95," Harden said, via ESPN. "We were pretty aggressive defensively, and that allowed us to get out in transition. If we be comfortable, sit back and just allow them to get to their spots and run around freely, then they're going to pick us apart. But if we get into them and try to make it tougher on them, good things will happen for us."
After Game 1, a lot of people bemoaned the iso-ball style of the Rockets, but it didn't seem like a problem in Game 2. The thing about the Warriors is that you seemingly need to shoot the lights out to beat them. The Rockets weren't exactly efficient, but they beat the Warriors with a different style than we normally see. There were plenty of points to go around -- PJ Tucker had 22 points, Trevor Ariza had 19 and Eric Gordon had 27 off the bench -- but they shot only 16 of 42 from beyond the arc and 45 for 88 from the field.
The Rockets won the game in transition; 9.4 percent of their points were fastbreak points, according to NBA Stats, up from just 2.8 percent in Game 1. The Rockets played faster, and it showed.
Teams can be forgiven for being awestruck by the Warriors. In terms of sheer talent, this may well be the best team in NBA history. However, the Rockets are great team themselves. They need to focus on playing their game. If they do, this series will stay competitive the rest of the way. That's easier said than done -- the next two games will be at Oracle Arena, where three points for the Warriors can cascade to 11 in a heartbeat -- but Houston has the talent to run with the Warriors. Game 2 served as a reminder of that.
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