News And Notes: Halfway To History
Rockets return home ready to take next step in series with Thunder
HOUSTON - In the immediate aftermath of a second straight heartbreaking playoff loss to the Thunder that placed the Rockets into what seemed to be an impossibly deep hole, Jeremy Lin ended his postgame interview by saying something that few, if any, paid much attention to at the time. Lin had been asked if he still believed that his team had a chance to come back despite being down 3-0 in the series. His response was simple: “I believe in miracles,” he said.
That statement hardly seemed relevant at the time – after all, what else is a competitor supposed to say in such situations? But five days and two wins later, the seed of belief that permeated the Rockets’ locker room from the moment the series began has begun to blossom and bloom in ways few could have imagined after walking out of that downtrodden and despondent locker room last Saturday night. The Rockets return home more confident than ever now that they’re a game away from knotting the series – a feat that has only been accomplished three times in NBA history after a team has fallen behind 0-3.
“Even when we were down 0-3 this team never quits,” Chandler Parsons said Thursday afternoon following a brief film session at Toyota Center. “We’re resilient, we never hang our heads, we never argue and we stick together. We’re just a tough team that wants to win.
“In our minds, still nobody’s giving us a shot. But it doesn’t really matter; it matters who believes in that locker room and that we believe in ourselves. We’re fully confident that we’re going to win tomorrow night and that we’re going to take the series.”
If the Rockets are to make history, it’s become readily apparent to all that they must continue their recent run of success behind the three-point line. In Houston’s two victories this series, the team has hit nearly 42 percent of its shots from distance. In its three losses, that number plummets to somewhere in the vicinity of 28 percent.
What is unknown, however, is precisely whom the Rockets will be able to lean on to hit those shots. After missing the past two games with a chest contusion, Lin is getting closer to a return after successfully making his way through a workout that included contact in order to see how his injury would respond. Carlos Delfino, meanwhile, spent a chunk of his Thursday afternoon getting his sore left foot examined by doctors who will determine his status going forward.
“Carlos has got a lot of stuff going on in his foot,” admitted Houston head coach Kevin McHale. “He’s got bone spurs, he’s got a little fracture of a bone spur, he’s got a lot of different stuff going on. He hasn’t said a word about it. Every day I say, ‘How’s it going, ‘Los?’ And he gives me the old, ‘I’ll give you what I’ve got, coach.’ I don’t know what it is about those Argentineans but I sure like them.”
Elsewhere on the illness and injury front, James Harden was diagnosed with and treated for strep throat Thursday, though he is fully expected to play Friday night, especially after fighting through those very same symptoms while racking up 31 points in Game 5. All of Houston’s assorted bumps and bruises merely serve to shine the spotlight even brighter on the club’s supporting cast members; a reality that has clearly suited players like Francisco Garcia and Patrick Beverley just fine.
“I’ve played on a team where I was the James Harden; where you walk into a city and there’s billboards of me in the city,” Beverley said when asked how he handles the pressure of the playoff spotlight. “The playoffs have been fun to me. It’s not really a lot of Xs and Os in the playoffs; it’s either you do or you don’t. I’ve been thriving and I’ve been having fun with it.
“When we see a little daylight we like to take advantage of it. We see a little bit now."