The Houston Rockets have found themselves in a precarious position against the defending champions. A game after blowing out the Golden State Warriors, the Rockets seemingly rested on their laurels before suffering the most lopsided defeat in franchise history.
According to head coach Mike D’Antoni, the team lacked toughness in the loss that dropped the Rockets to 2-1 in the Western Conference Finals, but he expects to see the same killer mentality that was evident in their 22-point win in Game 2.
"We didn't make shots, didn't make plays," D'Antoni told reporters. "It looked like the air seeped out of our balloon. They picked it up in the second half. They made shots and we didn't, but it goes back to force.
"They gave us a haymaker and we went down," D'Antoni added. "Again, we have short memories, have to. It's 2-1, and we've got to get one up here.”
The Rockets jumped out to a league-best 65-17 record during the regular season, but that play has eluded Houston in two of the three games against Golden State. Although there were times when the Rockets struggled in the first two series, they were extremely economical in dispatching two quality opponents in five games.
Offense has escaped Houston at times, which has been their calling card all season. Ultimately, the Rockets will need to get back to more ball movement while limiting turnovers. As D’Antoni said, the team will also simply need to make more shots. James Harden and Chris Paul will need to shoulder the load, finding ways to penetrate the paint and kick out to three-point shooters.
The Rockets shot 34.9 percent from the floor in the first half of their Game 3 loss, despite finishing the season decimal points behind the Warriors for the best offense in the league.
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