Rockets tie series, 1-all

Bandera (Mindanao) - - FRONT PAGE -

THE Houston Rockets ramped up the intensity yesterday, powering past the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, 127105, to level their Western Conference finals series at one game apiece.

Houston’s Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden scored 27 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Eric Gordon added 27 off the bench as five players scored in double figures for a Rockets team chastened by a 119106 series-opening defeat on their home floor on Tuesday.

“Total team effort,” Harden said. “We played harder and smarter than Game One. That was the only difference.”

The Rockets signalled their intentions early. Their seven fast-break points in the opening quarter more than doubled the three they mustered in all of Game One.

Houston connected on three-of-10 from three-point range in the first period while the Warriors were zero-forseven and coughed up seven turnovers.

Up 26-21 after one quarter, the Rockets wouldn’t trail from there.

They led 64-50 by halftime, with four players already in double figures as they stepped up the pace and tightened the defensive screws.

“Everything was fueled off our defense,” Gordon said. “We hit the open man at the right time and guy s we re knocking down shots and when we play that way it’s just a fun game.”

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said there was no major change in strategy— just more intensity and better execution from a Houston team that led the league with 65 regular-season wins.

“I don’t want to be cantankerous,” D’Antoni said. “You have one of the best offenses of all time, at least, with Golden State and we’re trying to prove we’re up there with them. You’re not going to come in and change the way you play.

“We are who we are. We just did it better and longer.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the Rockets’ energy made all the difference. — AFP

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