It was obvious to anyone after Game 1 that the Houston Rockets needed more help from their role players if they were going to beat the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, and those role players stepped up to answer the call in Game 2.
Eric Gordon scored 27 points off the bench, including going 8-15 from the field and 6-9 from deep to lead the Rockets to a 127-105 victory over the Dubs. Gordon was aggressive and broke out of his playoff funk in a big way. He also hit this long-range dagger in the fourth quarter.
Eric Gordon hits the long 3 after being unable to beat Draymond Green off the dribble. pic.twitter.com/9oQ2ETLk8K— RealGM (@RealGM) May 17, 2018
But the help didn’t end there. The Rockets also got a big game from P.J. Tucker, who had 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. The Tuckwagon was 8-9 shooting the ball and a ridiculous 5-6 from beyond the arc, and he also did a fine job scoring off of cuts to the basket.
Trevor Ariza was the third role player to pitch in, as he went for 19 points and 6 assists. Ariza was only 1-3 from deep, however, and most of his points came either off of the break or from slashing to the bucket. Getting Ariza and Tucker on the move were clearly points of emphasis for the Rockets.
Those three complemented the normal fine performances from James Harden and Chris Paul. The Beard went for 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Paul put up 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists. He and The Beard pushed the pace all night and combined with much better off-ball movement to run the Dubs out of the gym. All starters were pulled with 4 minutes left in the game,
The Rockets still had no answer for Kevin Durant, who went for 38 points on 13-22 shooting and looks like the best player in the world in this series. But no one has an answer for Durant. The Rockets employed the proper strategy in doing their best to shut down the other elements of the Golden State attack.
Steph Curry had 16 points on on 7-19 shooting, including 1-8 from deep, and Klay Thompson put up just 8 points and was 3-11 from the field. In fact, no one other than Durant and Curry scored in double figures for Golden State, and it was a complete turnaround from Game 1 when the Rockets got no help outside of their stars and the Warriors got contributions up and down the roster.
The Rockets took a haymaker in Game 1 and had the fortitude to bounce back and land one of their own in Game 2. They also made the proper adjustments on both sides of the ball, so it’ll be interesting to see what Steve Kerr comes back with in Game 3.
The Rockets will be looking to for more of the same, and hopefully didn’t suffer a blow tonight, as Chris Paul was said to have a lower right leg injury and had it wrapped on the bench with the game drawing to a close.
We’ll also need to see some more from Luc Mbah a Moute, who has completely lost his confidence. He’ll get another shot in Game 3, but the leash will be short. He missed two more easy layups tonight and went 1-5 shooting.
Clint Capela played some good defense tonight and also grabbed 10 boards, but was non-existent offensively again, going for just 5 points on 3 shots. It’s going to be a long series, I think, and the Rockets are going to need offense from both of these guys yet.
For now, though, it’s a big Rockets win. Enjoy it.