• Brian L. Barefield

LOCKDOWN: Rockets become stingy on defense in the second half to take Game 2 against OKC.

Photo Credit/ Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets took a commanding 2-0 lead on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs in Orlando defeating them by a score of 111-98. Houston used something that is becoming synonymous with their “Small Ball” lineup that has an undersized 6’5 forward in P.J. Tucker starting at center and that is defense.

The Rockets held the Thunder to just 39 points in the second half and used a 13-0 run in the same half to overcome the six-point defi OKC had at halftime 59-53. The Thunder countered that with an 11-0 run to jump back in front at the end of the third quarter. Just when it seemed like the Thunder were poised to make a run with James Harden on the bench, the Rockets role players had another plan.

Houston’s reserves responded with a 17-0 run led by Danuel House Jr. who finished the game with 19 points.

''We want to make sure that guys are not caring about themselves, so guys are showing great energy on the court and off the court,'' said House when asked about the energy the team brings to the court.

Photo Credit/ Houston Rockets

The Rockets survived a horrible shooting night from beyond the arc. After starting 8-for-16 in the first quarter, they missed a combined 15 in the second quarter. Eric Gordon and James Harden combined to go 2-for-21 with Gordon not making one for the entire game.

''We didn't shoot the ball particularly well tonight,” said Harden. “But I think defensively, especially in that second half, we did an unbelievable job just gearing in what they like to do and correcting our mishaps in that first half.''

Coach D’Antoni added a little humor to the end of his postgame press conference by telling the media his motivational speech he gave his team after the game.

'I just told the team all we did was defend home court,” he said adding that his team just laughed him out of the locker room. “Now we have to go to Oklahoma City and play. So, we have to come back third game with same kind of intensity, same kind of mentality and see what happens.''

Houston will be back in action for Game 3 on Saturday.

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