James Harden Scores 28 Points, Rockets Tie Series With Spurs 2-2
May 09 2017 by Johnnie Parsons
Houston Rockets forward Nene has been ruled out of the remainder of the season after suffering a torn thigh muscle, the team confirmed on Monday, May 8 (Tuesday in Manila).
Even without Tony Parker, the Spurs showed their class to take control of this series and put the Rockets under enormous pressure. He averaged 10 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 70.6 percent from the field in 17.9 minutes per game in the playoffs.
If the Rockets are to win tonight, they'll have to put on a more team-oriented performance.
Next up is Game 3 of their tied second-round series with the Rockets on Friday night in Houston.
"I can finally breathe", Harden said. I think it's going to turn out that way.
History says it's over: No NBA team has wasted a 3-0 series lead, James has never coughed up as much as a 2-0 series lead, and even if the Raptors get injured point guard Kyle Lowry (ankle) back for Sunday he surely won't be anywhere near his best. This forced Mike D'Antoni to go with Ryan Anderson at center for a long stretch.
Houston scored six straight points soon after that to get within eight, but Danny Green made two 3-pointers in less than a minute to push the lead to 94-82 with less than three minutes remaining.
"I don't know the status on Nene yet, but just - it's tough to see our big fella go out, especially (considering) how hard he works to keep his body in shape", Harden said.
"We're capable of those type of runs every game", said Morris, who finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. After recording just four fastbreak points in Game 3, the Rockets managed 13 in the first quarter alone Sunday. In the first matchup with the Spurs, the Brazilian had a defensive rating of 92 points per 100 possessions, and that's been a running theme this postseason. "So, we just try ride the momentum, try to take some things that we did very well, not only last game, but this entire series and try to bring it to Game 5".
Harden was joined in double-figures by six teammates, led by Gordon's 22 points off the bench. No more letting San Antonio dictate the tempo that tortured them so in those Game 2 and 3 losses. Make or miss, I don't care. His point guard had come under scrutiny from fans who said his best days were behind him, but Popovich marveled at how the soft-spoken Parker's leadership had "increased exponentially" in their first season together without Duncan. Against San Antonio, Nene averaged 5.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.8 minutes of action. He also swapped regular starter David Lee for Pau Gasol from the start, which gave the Spurs a little more versatility, even if the lengthy center scored just 2 points before hitting the bench. By increasing the pace, you don't allow San Antonio to get comfortable defensively, which increases the chances of getting a mismatch or confusion. LaMarcus Aldridge abused Harden in the post, but Houston can probably live with San Antonio constantly forcing the ball down low.