Defiant Rockets rewarded for ignoring calls for change


HOUSTON -- The call came in a little after 1 a.m. early Tuesday morning. PJ Tucker saw the caller ID and shook his head. James Harden was calling to talk about the Houston Rockets' demoralizing loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Monday. Tucker wasn't sure if the MVP front-runner was calling to vent or cheer him up. Either way, he was in no mood.
"I was so mad I didn't answer the phone," Tucker told ESPN on Wednesday night after the Rockets righted the ship to win Game 2 127-105 and salvage a split on their home court. "James was mad I didn't answer. But it wasn't one of those where we had to talk it out. We all knew what happened.
"We played like the Rockets tonight. The first game, I don't know who that was."
To a man, the Rockets insisted they didn't change their approach in Game 2 after being criticized for playing such an isolation-heavy game Monday night. If anything, they seemed to double down on that approach and way of being Wednesday night. They just did it a whole lot better.
Houston's passing in Game 2 led to much better shots than it did in Game 1. On Wednesday, for example, the Rockets created 12 uncontested 3-point shots off assists and made six of them. In Monday's loss they created only five uncontested 3-pointers off assists and made two of them.
"I had better opportunities. We moved the ball better. Everybody was knocking down shots. Once we do that, how can you stop us?" said Rockets guard Eric Gordon, who scored 27 points including six 3-pointers Wednesday.