Grit gives Houston its first series win despite 'hostile' Blazers crowd
Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale is a legend in the city of Boston from his playing days with the Celtics.
But on Friday night at Moda Center, he was happy not to have to talk about coming back from a 3-0 deficit, a climb the Red Sox made against the New York Yankees in 2004.
Were not a fine-tuned machine right now, but we went out and played hard, McHale said, after the Rockets had sliced the Trail Blazers' NBA first-round playoff series lead to 2-1 with a 121-116 overtime victory.
Houston won in the waning moments, as Troy Daniels, who was in the NBA Development League less than three weeks ago, buried the dagger 3-pointer with 11.9 seconds remaining in the OT.
The Rockets would not have been in that position without guard James Harden, of course. While Harden continued his postseason struggles shooting the ball, going 13 of 35 from the field, he did finish with 37 points.
Harden said the Rockets were confident they would be able to win Game 3, even after Portland had swept two games in Houston.
We had confidence, Harden said. We shouldnt have been down 0-2 in the series, but we knew it was going to be a hostile environment. When we came in, we relaxed. They (the Blazers) made a couple runs, but we had our composure and made the winning plays at the end.
Houston also did a good job containing Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who burned the Rockets in Games 1 and 2 with 46 and 43 points, respectively. Aldridge finished Game 3 with 23 points, only four in the first quarter and none in the second quarter.
"Youve got to crowd him and make him take those tough shots, said Houston center Dwight Howard, who checked Aldridge much of the night. The first two games, he was hitting those tough shots. Thats how you have to play him. We cant let a shot from him affect your energy.
Howard also helped Harden in the scoring department by adding 24 points.
Rockets backup point guard Jeremy Lin said the game came down to a few plays, plays that Houston made.
We made a couple more plays down the stretch, Lin said. I cant say enough about the effort and the grit and the blue-collar everything we played with tonight. Everything was beautiful.
Having won their first game of the series, Lin said the Rockets need to continue being aggressive as they try to steal homecourt advantage back from the Blazers in the best-of-seven series.
The next game is so crucial," Lin said. "It puts a little more pressure on them. But this is just the first step, and theres so much to go. We understand that.
Said Harden: The pressure is on them (the Blazers). Sunday is going to be a great game, and we have to do a great job of being ready, being focused.