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[*] posted on 11-8-2018 at 02:52
ammate was better than plus-7.


The Houston Rockets are so full of physical defenders that Golden State coach Steve Kerr said many look like they could play football.

And with three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt watching from a courtside seat Thursday night Authentic Luke Falk Jersey , this team long known for its powerful offense relied again on its defense to beat the Warriors 98-94 and take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.

”Both teams are playing their guys heavy minutes so shots will fall or not,” James Harden said. ”But I think whoever can buckle down and get stops consecutively and create opportunities with their defense is going to win or have a chance at winning games.

”The last two games, we’ve done that.”

Indeed. The Rockets bounced back from an embarrassing 41-point loss in Game 3, when Golden State scored 126 points, to hold the Warriors to fewer than 100 points in two straight wins. Houston’s stingy defense helped the Rockets come out on top on a night when Harden, the MVP front-runner, was 0 for 11 on 3-pointers.

Critics of Mike D’Antoni’s teams often said they were too focused on offense and not good enough on defense. It looks like that’s changed now – against a team with four All-Stars in its starting lineup.

”Ninety-four points for a team like that, the guys are trying to find a way and they did,” D’Antoni said.

The Rockets have kept the Warriors from moving the ball the way they’re accustomed to Tony Wolters Colorado Rockies Jersey , crowding them and forcing them into playing more isolation- style. They’ve also been relentless at throwing bodies at their shooters, and have often used bigger players to harass Stephen Curry to try and wear him down.

Houston has forced the Warriors into 34 turnovers combined and limited them to 19 total 3-pointers in the last two games.

The Warriors and Rockets were first and second in the NBA in points per game during the regular season, averaging 113.5 and 112.4, respectively. Golden State has managed just over 107 points a game in this series, and Houston has held the defending champions to 97 points in its three wins.

Curry noted that both teams have elevated their defenses in this series.

”It’s been high level,” he said. ”Nothing’s easy out there on either side.”

He shook his head at the fact neither team has broken 100 points in the last two games.

”I think (if you) guessed what the final score would be between the Rockets and Warriors, and neither team getting to 100 two straight games, don’t know what the odds (would be) on that,” he said. ”Defense is high right now.”

While everyone has been pitching in Authentic DJ Moore Jersey , the tone on defense, especially in these last two games, has been set by the aggressive play of P.J. Tucker and Trevor Ariza, and Clint Capela’s presence at the rim. Tucker knows that most people believe the way to beat the Warriors is to outscore them in a shootout. The Rockets have shown that energy and effort on the defensive end are a better formula for getting it done.

”Anybody says to beat Golden State they talk about scoring 120, 130 points,” Tucker said. ”We just feel like we play defense, (lock) down and make it tough for them.”

And if the Rockets are able to do that in Game 6 on Saturday night they’ll be on the way to their first NBA Finals since winning consecutive titles in 1994-95.




NEW ORLEANS — Now that Stephen Curry is back to waving his magical right wrist and pointing three fingers to the rafters, the Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to dispatch the New Orleans Pelicans after winning the first two games of their seven-game Western Conference semifinal series in Oakland.

But the Pelicans, who have won 12 of their last 17 games at home Mark Andrews Color Rush Jersey , are taking a glass-half-full approach coming off a closer-than-expected 121-116 loss on Tuesday night as the teams meet Friday night in Game 3 at the Smoothie King Center.

There is some reason for the Pelicans’ optimism of stealing a game. After being crushed 123-101 in the series opener — a game in which forward Anthony Davis and guard Jrue Holiday combined for just 32 points — New Orleans hung tough in Game 2 and trailed by only a point midway through the fourth quarter.

The Pelicans are buoyed by the curious stat line emerging from the Game 2 loss: Even though New Orleans outscored Golden State 66-38 in the paint, the Pelicans could not get to the free-throw line. In the first two games, Golden State has a 59-20 edge in free-throw attempts.

In Game 2, Davis and Holiday never attempted a free throw — the first time that had happened since they began playing with each other five seasons ago.

“I just go out there and play,” said Davis, who scored 25 points in Game 2, about his failure to get to the line. “It’s on the refs to make calls. They said I didn’t get fouled, so maybe I have to go in there a little stronger and force them to call them.”

Veteran point guard Rajon Rondo expressed the frustration his teammates are feeling about the foul-shooting imbalance.

“Both of those guys (Davis and Holiday) shot the ball a combined 48 times,” Rondo said. “I think we were attacking Youth Jerome Baker Jersey , but that’s not an excuse. We got the shots we wanted. Our guys were aggressive, and things will turn, hopefully for Game 3.”

Playing his first game in more than five weeks since suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, Curry came off the bench in Game 2 and scored 28 points in just 27 minutes. Golden State coach Steve Kerr said Curry would definitely start Game 3.

“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah,” Kerr said. “You don’t keep a guy like that on the bench for long. His knee is fine. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he hasn’t played in (five) weeks. So any sort of minutes restriction was only based on his conditioning. There was no-holds-bar in terms of his knee.”

The Pelicans are hoping they will be energized by a home crowd that helped them sweep through Games 3 and 4 of a first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers. New Orleans has posted an 8-2 record at home since March 18.

Coincidental to the Pelicans’ improvement at home has been the switch they made in the last month — going to the Smoothie King Center for game-day shoot-arounds instead of doing their preps at their training facility in Metairie.

“Practicing where you play, there is something to that,” Holiday said. “Being able to get a feel for the arena Logan Morrison Minnesota Twins Jersey , the depth (perception) with the bleachers and the stands compared to our practice facility.”

Curry, a two-time NBA MVP, was a plus-27 in Game 2 while on the court for the Warriors, and no teammate was better than plus-7.

“He was Steph — he didn’t take long to warm up, that’s for sure,” Kerr said.

But Kerr said the Warriors are expecting a battle in Game 3.

“We played well enough to win (on Thursday night), but we’re going to have to play better in New Orleans,” Kerr said.

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