Moore: Rockets Mentally Tougher Than Warriors

The Rockets aren't beating the Warriors with shooting; they're beating them with toughness

After Hours with Amy Lawrence
May 25, 2018 - 11:00 am

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Game 2 wasn’t an aberration. Neither was Game 4. Neither was Game 5. The Houston Rockets are good – and they might be the best team in the NBA.

“They might legitimately have the better team, and that’s shocking considering what they’re up against in these defending-champion Warriors,” The Action Network NBA writer Matt Moore said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “But quite simply, in this series, it’s become about who's tougher mentally – and Houston has won that battle when I don’t think a lot of people gave them a chance to do so.”

The Rockets beat Golden State, 98-94, in Game 5 on Thursday despite an off night from James Harden, who had 19 points on 5-of-21 shooting, including 0-of-11 from three. Eric Gordon, however, scored a team-high 24 points off the bench, while Chris Paul added 20.

The Rockets have been held under 100 points in three straight games but have won two of them – and now they’re one win away from their first Finals appearance since 1995.

“They really do have a serious chance of advancing to the NBA Finals,” Moore said. “Not on their shooting and not on James Harden’s brilliance and not on the explosive offense of Mike D’Antoni, but on their mental toughness – which I think is a credit to how this locker room is put together.”

The Rockets have played lock-down defense on the Warriors in each of the last two games. They held Golden State to 12 points in the fourth quarter of Game 4 and to 17 points in the first quarter of Game 5. They’ve done it with defense, rebounding and toughness.

“They’ve got the edge in this series – and that’s been evident,” Moore said. “For a team that’s as good as the Warriors, they’ve been put on their heels by how intense the Rockets have been in both of these last two wins.”

Game 6 is Saturday in Oakland at 9 p.m. ET. Game 7, if necessary, is Monday in Houston at 9 p.m. ET.