HOUSTON – By their own high standards, the Houston Rockets struggled to shoot their beloved three-pointers in Sunday’s NBA playoffs Game 1 against the Timberwolves, making 10 of 37 attempts.
Don’t worry, they’re just going to keep shooting.
When asked about keeping the faith, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said, “It’s not real difficult because we don’t have anything else. It’s nerve-racking, but that’s how we play, how we’re going to play, as long as they’re great shots. The whole thing whether you make shots or not is irrelevant. If we play great defense, we’re going to win the game. We’ve got shot-makers. We’re going to score a certain number of points. We should win anyway.
“It’s what we do. It’s how we set our offense up.”
The Rockets made only two three-pointers more than the Wolves (10 to 8) in Sunday’s Game 1 after they made more than twice as many in the teams’ four-game season series. They averaged 42 three-point attempt in the regular season.
Any chance that happens again this series?
“It could possibly happen,” Rockets guard Eric Gordon said. “They’re a good team. They’re not just your regular eighth-seed team. They tried to take a lot away, but we still won.”
One more shooter?
A mismatch for the Wolves and other teams, Rockets forward Ryan Anderson practiced Tuesday for the first time back from a sprained ankle and could play Wednesday.
“Whether he plays depends on a little bit [Tuesday], a little bit [Wednesday] and a little bit about the game,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
The Wolves had the ball, nearly nine seconds to run a full-court play they’ve run before, but couldn’t force overtime with a tying three-point shot Sunday when star guard Jimmy Butler’s foot was on the three-point line and his shot with 1.5 seconds didn’t reach the rim.
Asked if he was surprised to learn later he didn’t get the tying shot off, Butler said, “To tell you the truth, I wasn’t paying attention. We knew what play we were trying to get into and we executed it pretty well. I’ve just got to do better, get my feet behind the line and getting off a better look.”
Wolves All-Stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Butler combined to score 21 points Sunday, or less than half the 44 points Harden scored. They together took 20 shots, five more than the 15 Andrew Wiggins took himself. Butler went for 4-for-11 and scored 13 points.
“I just take what the game gives me,” Butler said. “What do you want me to do, go out and jack up 30 shots? If I get good looks, I’ll take them. If not, I’ll find my teammates. Our job is to win, not go out and score X amount of points.”