McHale: Getting stops key to our game
Getting a win in the fourth game of a stretch of four games in five nights is not easy. Especially when that game is on the road. Especially when you arrive in town at 3:30 a.m. in the morning. Especially when you are coming off a blowout loss.
No problem for the Rockets (4-1) who beat the Blazers, 116-101, by finally playing some defense they can be proud of, really for the first time in two nights.
Bouncing back positively from their 137-118 loss from the Clippers was exactly what head coach Kevin McHale wanted to see from his team. He just wasn't sure that he would see it.
"It was the first time we'd been beaten this year," McHale said. "We got beaten by the Clippers pretty good and I wanted to see how they responded.
"It was a huge response by our guys. That really showed me a lot. When you do that, it shows you have character and you care."
The game was tight throughout the first half, but the Rockets first quarter defense left a bit to be desired. Portland shot 48 percent in the first quarter, but it was their 3-point production that was troublesome. The Blazers made 6-of-9 of their 3-pointers and scored 31 points in the first 12 minutes.
But the Rockets ramped up their defensive pressure and for the rest of the night, the Blazers could not get their shots to drop. They made just 26-of-66 shots (39 percent) the rest of the game and missed 18 of their remaining 22 3-point attempts.
"We had to come out there and kind of force the issue defensively and we were successful," guard Pat Beverley said.
Beverley was a surprise addition to thenight's rotation, since he was expected to be out for another week with the partial tear of a muscle in his mid-section. But he worked out before the game and was cleared by the trainers so he was available to come off the bench and ended up playing 29 minutes, contributing 12 points and four rebounds, all offensive.
"I was happy I didn't feel any pain today," Beverley said. "I was able to make some plays and get some defensive stops. It just felt good being out there with them again.
He and Jeremy Lin, who had 12 points and four assists, both had excellent games and did a great job of pressuring the Blazers guards.
"Everyone in the NBA knows we can score the ball," Beverley said. "It's up to us to focus in defensively. Once we do that, the sky's the limit for this team."