Rockets Down To A One-Game Season


HOUSTON — The temptation is to change without Russell Westbrook in the Thunder lineup. The temptation is to try to exploit that gaping hole in the backcourt.

But going back to that infamous apple hanging from the tree, temptation has often led to trouble.

“We can’t change who we are,” said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. “We can’t suddenly change our style and become some team that we’re not. It’s not like we’re gonna show up and suddenly play like an inside-out team with Hakeem Olajuwon in the middle.”

The task for the Rockets in Game 3 tonight at the Toyota Center is to keep stomping down hard on the gas pedal, keep moving the basketball from side to side on the court and continue to play with the sense of urgency that was evident in their fourth-quarter comeback in Game 2.

The absence of Westbrook does not mean the Rockets are facing a situation that is any less desperate.

Of 44 previous No. 8 seeds to fall into an 0-2 hole in the first round of the playoffs, only one has managed to climb back out.

“We’ve got a one-game season,” McHale said. “That’s as simple as it is. We better be desperate. We’re down 2-0 coming home in a playoff series. We got to play well. We got to do all the things we did last game, but more.”

Rather than an OKC that is reeling, the Rockets have got to figure the Thunder will come rolling with an added measure of emotion. They have got to expect that the league’s second-leading scorer Kevin Durant will now have the ball in his hands even more and will put up more shots.

“That sounds like fun for me,” said Chandler Parsons, who will get the lion’s share of the defensive duty on Durant.

“Anytime someone goes down, it gives the team an opportunity for someone to step up. (Westbrook’s) a huge part of their team. They’re hurting right now. That’s one of their leaders. That’s one of their best players going down.

“Now we’ve got to really get them while they’re down. Obviously we have an opportunity…and we have to take advantage of the opportunity.

“Just because Westbrook is out doesn’t mean we’re not still down 0-2. The urgency’s still there and it’s probably even more now. Just understanding that it’s a very winnable game and we need to go in there and set the tone and really make this series fun by getting a win.”

The Rockets are expecting that Reggie Jackson will get the start for OKC in Westbrook’s place, but they can’t afford to concern themselves with match-ups.

Houston could be missing a cog in its own starting lineup depending on the status of point guard Jeremy Lin. He suffered a bruised chest muscle in Game 2 and is considered a game-time decision. However Lin did take part in Saturday morning’s shootaround. Big man Greg Smith was suffering from stomach distress and did not participate in the shootaround.

Nevertheless, what’s important for the Rockets is to clean up all of the problems in their own game. In the series opener, the NBA’s youngest team was overwhelmed by the first playoff experience for most of the roster and was swamped. When the ball moved better in their offense and presented open shots in Game 2, the Rockets made just 36 of 91 shots and were only 10-for-34 from behind the 3-point line.

And the one thing the Rockets cannot do at all is think for even a moment that Westbrook’s absence could make things easier.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” said forward Carlos Delfino.

Series Hub: Thunder vs. Rockets


  1. TT says:

    I’m certainly younger and wiser than you are and have more life than you, an ultimate loser. Face the facts and reflect on the loss. You have much to learn.

  2. Ahmed says:

    Best thing might happened to the rocket is Lin injury not westbrook

    • Fair Palmer says:

      Relishing one player’s injury — what a mean-spirited response!

      The Rockets lost Game 3 last night without the benefit of a healthy Jeremy Lin. It was a painful close loss to swallow.

      Wish them better luck in Game 4. Win or loss, we are proud of this young team. Go Rockets!.

      • TT says:

        Doesn’t matter if Jeremy Lin is healthy or not, because he’s over-rated. Kevin Durant did the right thing to reach in and re-aggravate his injury. If he’s injured, Kevin McHale should play Patrick Beverley or Aaron Brooks the full minutes of a point guard. This guys are much better than the over-rated Lin-liability. Ask any frustrated Rockets fans and they will say the same thing. Coming back from a 26-point deficit in the first half after sending Lin-liability to the locker room? The Rocket’s weakness is that they don’t play defence at all, and they got their punishment when their 3-point centered offence doesn’t work against OKC. And Lin-liability certainly doesn’t help in the defence.

      • 34yr fan says:

        …..did the ‘right’ thing to re-aggravate his injury…… what a childish statement….how old are you anyway??

  3. ThunderRocketsFan says:

    I like both the Rockets & Thunder but Thunder will probably sweep the Rockets. Rockets have alot of potential but they are the youngest team so when games are close, Thunder have more of an advantage. I do think the Rockets have the talent to beat most NBA teams at 1 game but not in a 7 game series in the west this year. They need another All-Star IMO & then they can make the west semi-finals.

  4. Gary Payton says:

    Go Rockets, you can come back and win!

  5. sportsfan says:

    OKC should let this series go 7 games & IF they can win the next 2 rounds in 7 game series then they’ve given Westbrook the maximum amount of time to heal & hopefully be ready for the finals.

    • Agon McDouche says:

      That doesn’t make sense. The second round starts the same date no matter what happens.

      • sportsfan says:

        If OKC sweeps Houston & if the Clippers win their series 4-1 then they’ll be scheduled to meet sooner.

      • sportsfan says:

        Doesn’t matter now, just read that Westbrook is out for the rest of the season.

      • Ben says:

        Incorrect, The starting date of subsequent rounds depends on when the respective first rounds finish. Not that it matters for Westbrook since today’s announcement, but I was hoping for a 7 game Clips/Grizz series to give him a longer chance too.

  6. amitpal says:

    Even though I’m dissapointed that okc lost westbrook I think this is a step that okc needed in order to win the championship. In order for okc to win kevin durant needs to be more dominant and as long as westbrook was there he never did. Now we will find out if he can be more dominate. If he can carry this team to even the western conference final, I would be impressed and I think Kevin would take that dominate play to nwxt year and so on. But if he still takes it easy and laid back okc will not win a championship for the next 3 to 4 years.

  7. Kamote says:

    As much as I like the Rockets, OKC will take this series even w/o westbrook. They have a really good core though. Hopefully they could really define Lin’s role next year. This is obviously Harden’s team, but they need to bring back at least a small chunk of Linsanity to push them further.

  8. KB8 says:

    Westbrook needs to seek Metta’s doctor for fast recovery. Go to LA, get the surgeon to perform your need surgery. Don’t let anyone else do it. Most typical surgery will take 6-8 wks for u to recover cus they go in there and dig around. Rest in LA, at the beautiful beaches with the CA girls. Then sign with the Lakers and whoop Chris Paul. lol