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The Road To Recovery

Beverley dodges another bullet as Rockets look to bounce back versus Blazers

HOUSTON - Chandler Parsons feared the worst. He saw Patrick Beverley struggling to walk in the Rockets’ post-game locker room Sunday night – a sight nearly as troubling as the downtrodden look on the point guard’s face. For the second time in a month, a right knee injury was threatening to bring Beverley’s season to a premature end. So with an MRI scheduled for Monday morning, Parsons braced himself for the news that would confirm his greatest fears.

Perhaps he should have known better.

Displaying more lives than a cat and healing powers that resemble … well, you already know, Beverley dodged his latest injury bullet when today’s exam with the Rockets team doctor revealed no acute issues, leaving him a likely participant for Wednesday’s Game 2 and able to take part in today’s workout that took place this afternoon on the club’s practice court. The 25-year-old spark plug said he knew his knee was fine from the moment he got out of bed.

“I knew how I felt when I woke up this morning that I was ok,” said Beverley. “Hearing (the doctor) agree with me was definitely a blessing.

“I woke up at home, tried to put some weight on it, felt good. Squatted and felt good, one-legged jump felt good. I did this all at home. I just have an ability to heal quicker than others I guess.”

Supernatural, miraculous, another stroke of good fortune … call it whatever you will, his teammates are simply thrilled to know he’ll be back on the court far sooner than they had anticipated would be the case last night.

“I’m stoked,” Parsons said. “ I didn’t see that coming. He never ceases to amaze me. I’m glad he’s healthy and went through practice today and hopefully he’ll be able to go Wednesday.”

Ah, yes – about Wednesday night. With Beverley back in the fold, the Rockets began the process of putting together a game plan to make sure they send the series back to Portland tied at a game apiece. Not surprisingly, a significant amount of attention between now and the start of Game 2 will be paid to how Houston can at least somewhat slow the LaMarcus Aldridge express. The L-Train erupted for 46 points and 18 boards (7 of which occurred on the offensive end) last night, bringing his season averages against the Rockets this year to a staggering 30.6 points and 16 rebounds per game. Naturally, the Rockets were in no mood to reveal their tactics going forward, but there’s little doubt they intend to approach the Herculean task of defending Aldridge rather differently Wednesday night.

“We’ve got to a helluva lot better job on him, I can tell you that much,” said McHale. “He scored off offensive rebounds, he made two 3s, he made a couple jump shots, went crazy on the left box down there – he had it all going, and we’ve got a couple things we’re going to have to do to try to slow him down … He was just a runaway train last night.

“We’re really cognizant of trying to take the 3-point line away – probably too much so. We didn’t dig, we didn’t help, we didn’t do a lot of things.”

Still, it’s worth remembering that for all of Aldridge’s remarkable production against the Rockets this season, Houston won the season series with the Blazers 3-1 and was mere minutes away from ecording a fourth win prior to succumbing to a late-game collapse last night. Point being, the Rockets have shown they are plenty capable of emerging victorious even on the nights when Portland’s All-Star power forward goes supernova.

And while much of the Game 1 focus understandably centers on what took place at the end of the contest, Houston’s players and coaches are just as concerned with cleaning up the issues that put the club in an early hole. In the rarest of rare occurrences involving the free throw hoarding Rockets, Houston notably earned a grand total of zero trips to the charity stripe during Sunday night’s first half. Suffice to say, that notable number did not go unnoticed. James Harden, in particular, took it upon himself to be more attack-minded right from the outset.

“I didn’t play well offensively,” he said, one day after his 8-for-28 shooting performance that included a 3-of-14 mark from beyond the arc. “I kind of felt like I was a little too thirsty and anxious at the same time. I just have to be more precise with my shots and being aggressive.

“The first half I didn’t really attack and get to the rim like I wanted to … I didn’t really drive; I was shooting too many jump shots. I think I shot seven 3s in the first half. I wasn’t really driving and being attacking and being aggressive like I needed to be. I think when I get into attack mode, everything else opens up – the assists come and easy layups come. I’ve got to be more aggressive in that aspect.”