Down 2-1 in the series and facing what was essentially a must-win game, the Houston Rockets came out firing on all cylinders offensively, comfortably defeating the San Antonio Spurs 125-104 in Game 4 of their second round series. The Rockets have averaged 29 assists per game and shot 44.1 percent from behind the arc in their two wins and have 19.5 assists per game and 31.5 percent three-point shooting in their two losses.
San Antonio has elected to simply not let James Harden get into comfortable places in the lane where he can either get the layup, the lob to whichever center is in the game, or the easy kick-out pass to one of the many 3-point shooters he has around him at all times.
As for the Rockets, James Harden lit up the stats sheet, scoring 43. Against San Antonio, Nene averaged 5.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.8 minutes of action.
No more sauntering up the court after made baskets and letting the Spurs' vaunted defense set up.
The Spurs were not hindered by the loss of four-time National Basketball Association champion Tony Parker on Saturday, running away with a comprehensive win in Houston. Rockets by 11. The next trip down, Harden peeled off a screen and, with Pau Gasol's armpit in his face, drained an even more ridiculous step-back. After recording just four fastbreak points in Game 3, the Rockets managed 13 in the first quarter alone in Game 4.
On Tuesday, D'Antoni will lean on Eric Gordon and Lou Williams to put this team over the top.
Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge stressed the importance of playing with the kind of intensity the Rockets showed in Game 4.
The Houston Rockets need all the help they can get but Nene Hilario will, unfortunately, be unavailable. "We overall as a team push the pace, and do everything (we can) for us to get a win in the game".
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Furthermore, Kawhi Leonard's offensive production took a dive. But that graphic wasn't showing up quite as often these days, what with the Rockets' sixth man having struggled to find good looks against stout Spurs defenders like Leonard, Danny Green, and Jonathon Simmons. Houston scored 34 points in three of four quarters. I think the Spurs maintain the momentum they have built and pick up another huge road victory.
After answering a couple of questions but seeing no more hands raised from reporters, the Spurs coach mused, "Hey, I've got a whole bottle of water". "I'm nearly shooting 50% from regular field (specifically, 48.8%) and three-point (50% exactly), so I've just got to take more shots".
"They did a great job, and our defense was pretty defective", Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
In Game 4, Nene went down with an injury in the first quarter that sidelined him for the rest of the game while Clint Capela was in foul trouble in the first half.
"He's a big part of what we do", teammate Harden said of Nene. His experience and leadership are extremely valuable to the team. "No matter what, other guys have to step up".
With four minutes remaining in the first quarter of the Houston Rockets' blowout Game 4 124-104 victory against the Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge clanked a fadeaway jumper that landed in the arms of Lou Williams, who sped up the court and delivered it in the hands of a most unsafe practitioner.
A question was posed to Mike D'Antoni on Sunday after yet another blowout between his Rockets and the Spurs.