Defense and details lead Rockets in Game 2 victory over Thunder

Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets pulled out a gritty victory in Game 2 of their opening round matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Although the Houston Rockets‘ offense was periodically stagnant in their Game 2 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, their defense was not. The Rockets were able to hold the Thunder below 100 points, and the Rockets’ defense on Chris Paul was a major contributing factor.

Paul had 14 points on 15 shots and the Thunder were 36 points worse with him on the floor. On the other side, every Rockets player that played over 25 minutes scored in double figures, which is certainly a recipe for success.

The energy from the bench was electrifying because of Russell Westbrook, who helped coach the Rockets and gave confidence to his teammates while being hurt.

Coach Russ is not playing with y'all

— ESPN (@espn) August 20, 2020

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni was asked about Westbrook’s energy on the sidelines during his post-game interview and offered the below response.

“That’s what it’s all about. When you have that kind of spirit, it’s great. That goes a long way,” said D’Antoni.”

In all honesty, James Harden struggled from the field by shooting 18 percent, but was able to still be effective with his leadership. Harden became a great energizer from the bench, as he cheered on his teammates.

Harden also played his usual role of facilitator, as he found open looks for the Rockets’ shooters throughout the game. Towards the end of the game, Harden knocked down back-to-back shots to close the game out against the Thunder. All in all, Harden finished Game 2 with 21 points.

Following the game, Harden stated that he finds positives in performances such as the one he had in Game 2.

“On nights where I am not making shots, it humbles me…I have to find another way to impact the game,” as Harden told the press after a win against the Thunder.

Danuel House became the x-factor for the Rockets on Thursday, as he grabbed nine rebounds and added 19 points. House became extremely important for the Rockets during winning time.

House was an annoyance for OKC’s defense, as he made big plays with and without the ball for the Rockets. The Rockets were 19 points better with House on the floor, which was second behind only Eric Gordon, who was a plus 23.

“I’m just trying to keep myself moving and use my energy in the right way to help this team win, at all costs,” as House said after the game.

Next: Unsung heroes for Rockets