Rockets need more than 1-man show vs. Spurs

All season long James Harden and the Rockets have done their best to challenge the conventional wisdom that, as good as they are, they are simply not in the same class of championship-caliber team as the Golden State Warriors and Spurs.

Playing their first postseason game in 16 years without point guard Tony Parker on Friday night, the Spurs pulled out a hard-fought 103-92 road win over the Houston Rockets to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series.

Houston aims to square the series at 2-2 in Game 4 on Sunday night at Toyota Center.

And they are not almost as effective when they can't get out in transition and take advantages of mismatches and cross matches that favor them.

James Harden did all he could to help the Rockets, scoring 43 points with five assists, but the team in general shot just 34 percent from the floor, and 31 percent from beyond the arc. The Spurs are 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings in Houston, 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings and the under is 5-2-1 in the last 8 meetings.

"Aldridge sooner or later is going to go off because he's an All-Star", Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said.

They must show who they are and who they have been. "When he's been healthy we've had a rhythm, he gets into it defensively and has set a tone on the perimeter for us along with Kawhi". Now, we have to make them.

The Rockets, for all of their offensive fireworks this season, are not made for a slugfest. They'll look for new ways to deploy Harden and hope that more of the misses from the last two games become makes.

Three Houston players managed to score in double digits on Saturday - Harden, Trevor Ariza (17) and Clint Capela (12).

The 26 points for Aldridge ranks as his third most in a postseason outing with the Spurs, and his 2017 playoff season high.

"We expect them to come out very aggressive and desperate with their backs against the wall", said Danny Green. "I think we played hard tonight. But there are going to be games when I take four shots".

The Rockets were 22 of 38 inside the restricted area in Games 2 and 3 when Gasol was on the floor according to the stats provided by the National Basketball Association media site, which is not good. San Antonio out-rebounded Houston 49-39 and were excellent on defense, despite not stopping Harden this time. Your turn, D'Antoni. It will be interesting to see if the rotation remains the same eight guys with the same substitution pattern, or if D'Antoni will try a smaller lineup (Ryan Anderson at the five has been suggested by some, intriguing) or perhaps give Sam Dekker some minutes to see if he can bring a boost if some of the shooting doesn't pick up.

Popovich said after the game that it didn't look good, and the Spurs' fears were confirmed after an MRI on Thursday. But they shoot about 45 percent, so you know how we - offense we just let ourselves down.

The Rockets had cut the Spurs lead to three with just five seconds to go in the quarter, but that play by Simmons took the lead back up to six, and in a relatively defensive game like Friday's was, that was a big psychological haymaker. "They've got guys that have been there".

The idea that San Antonio didn't stand a chance against the Rockets because of one hot night was absurd.

"We got every shot we wanted", Rockets guard Patrick Beverley said. "So we just have to go out there and do it". So as the Rockets search for their missing offense, the Spurs now have home-court advantage and clear momentum.

That's awhile. Yes, 221 playoff games, in fact.

  • Stacy Allen