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James Harden: ‘We don’t really worry about who we’re playing’

“There’s no doubt about it, we’re the underdogs,” Tucker told ESPN. “They’re still the champs. They’re the champs until somebody beats them. We’re underdogs in this. People were talking about us getting swept and we’ve got no shot. We’re the underdogs, and we’ve got to keep that mentality this whole series.

“That nastiness, that’s the only way we’re going to have a shot to win. We definitely have to play harder than them. cheap nfl jerseys nike china We’ve got to play harder, and we’ve got to play smarter.”

Houston’s improved intensity — “more force,” as coach Mike D’Antoni put it — was consistently pointed to by the Rockets as the primary difference in Game 2.

“If the first game we were at a 70, tonight we were at a 95,” Harden said. “We were pretty aggressive defensively, and that allowed us to get out in transition. If we be comfortable, sit back and just allow them to get to their spots and run around freely, then they’re going to pick us apart. But if we get into them and try to make it tougher on them, good things will happen for us.”

The Rockets had a much more balanced scoring attack in Game 2 than they did in the series opener Monday, when Harden tallied 41 points in a 119-106 home loss. Harden had 27 points on 9-of-24 shooting in Game 2, and a few Rockets role players were very productive: Sixth man Eric Gordon (27 points), small forward Trevor Ariza (19 points) and Tucker all had their highest-scoring outings of this postseason.213

“Everything was fueled off our defense,” said Gordon, who was 8-of-15 from the floor and 6-of-9 from 3-point range.

The focus for the Rockets’ coaches and players between games was on playing harder and smarter on defense, which they consider the key to giving themselves a chance to beat the Warriors.

“We know who we are,” Tucker said. “We don’t need to win a game to know who we are. We watched film, and nobody had anything to say. We understand. We get that. For us, it’s just playing how we play. We didn’t play Rocket basketball in Game 1. We all know that. cheap replica nfl jerseys We saw it. We watched the clips.

“Our guys have pride. We knew that what we did that first game, we can’t do that again. Regardless of the outcome, we’re not going to play like that again.”