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SAN FRANCISCO – Rockets guard James Harden waved his hands above his head as he danced to 2Pac’s “I Get Around” along the baseline of University of San Francisco’s War Memorial Gym just before the team’s practice Monday.
Harden’s moves were the latest sign that the Rockets, who were dismantled 126-85 in Game 3, maintain a high confidence level heading into Game 4 Tuesday evening.
“Golden State has all the pressure,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni. “They got to win tomorrow night. We should come in with a little bit of swagger and giddy up in our game.”
Houston’s collective spirit comes a day after their worst performance of this year’s postseason. In addition to giving up 52 percent from the field, the team gave up 49 total rebounds, including 20 on the offensive end, while committing 19 turnovers. Adding to the Rockets ire, Warriors guard Stephen Curry poured in 18 of his 35 points in the third quarter, keying a 10-0 run, while delivering his best performance of the postseason.
“He just made shots,” D’Antoni said. “He’s a great player, it’s all good. They’re going to make shots, our defense wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad a lot of the game, but if you give them 20 turnovers, and you miss shots at the rim. That’s just too many opportunities for them.
“We got to defend better,” added Rockets guard Chris Paul. “We gave up offensive rebounds, transition points, all that different types of stuff. And we gotta make shots.”
Coinciding with Curry’s eruption Sunday night, was the continued poor play of Paul. In 33 minutes, Paul scored just 13 points on 5 of 16 from the field, as the Rockets were -18 when he was on the floor. During the series, Paul is averaging 17 points, on 40 percent from the field. Following the Game 2 win, Paul was seen with a wrap around his left leg, however, the nine-time all-star refused to cite the injury as a reason for his struggles.
“I’m okay,” Paul said. “I’m trying to get treatment and all that and get ready for tomorrow. We’re trying to what we can do to make adjustments to win Game 4.”
Despite being down in the series, the Rockets have a reason to be confident. In games after a loss this postseason, Houston is 3-0 Last week, after posting the best record in the Western Conference and securing homecourt advantage, the Rockets lost Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Two days later, they evened the series, leading by as much as 29 points in a Game 2 victory.
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“That’s the one good thing about our team, said Rockets guard PJ Tucker. “We lose, we come back the next game like it didn’t even happen. Everybody’s still in good spirits, you see guys still doing the same things.”
Said Harden: “We might get whooped by 40, we might lose by two. We might win by 20 but our same swagger, our same confidence is always there.”
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