Defending Rockets' Harden is a chess match worth watching

The Houston Rockets should show urgency to return to the winning ways in the Game 4 against the San Antonio Spurs after falling behind in the series.

After losing the first game of their Western Conference semifinal series by 27 points, the San Antonio Spurs punched back in a major way against the Houston Rockets in Game 2.

After Game 1, when the Spurs gave up 126 points, the idea of starting Pau may have seemed nuts to some, but we're seeing a willingness to move and change from Popovich we haven't always seen in years past.

HOUSTON (AP) - After fighting through a awful chest cold for the last few days, James Harden finally felt like himself on Sunday night.

"I didn't have a lot of opportunities", he said.

Like his teammates, the Rockets' Nene, center, had little control of the ball on offense during Friday's Game 3 loss to the Spurs.

Kawhi Leonard added 26 points of his own for the Spurs along with 10 boards and seven assists en route to their 103-92 win over the Rockets Friday night.

"I think our energy was just up no matter what", Harden said. "I've just got to get comfortable again and just go out there and play".

Game 5 is Tuesday night in San Antonio. The San Antonio Spurs are averaging 105.7 points on 47.2 percent shooting and allowing 99.1 points on 44 percent shooting. That all comes from IQ and feel for the game.

Other than Harden and Ariza, the Rockets made 2 of 14 3s.

Game 3 was a Spurs masterpiece, well, at least defensively. "So we just have to go out there and do it". "It was that bad".

The Spurs are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games playing on 1 days rest, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. NBA Southwest and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall. They might have had to take some shots they would rather not, putting up 10 in the mid-range. Either we're going to shoot the three or drive to the bucket for the layup. They also need a plan to generate better looks for their role players, or just need to encourage them to take the driving lane and take their luck going up against Aldridge at the rim.

Murray, who had played only 23 minutes in the playoffs before Friday night, started eight of the 38 games he appeared in this season. He fell to the court grabbing his knee as Houston called a timeout and trainers rushed to him. After heading into the locker room trailing by three points, Cleveland put a stamp on the Raptors' upset hopes by outscoring them 36-17 in the fourth quarter. Patrick Beverley received a technical foul in the fourth quarter.

"I guess, theoretically, of course", Popovich said.

The Spurs will again be without point guard Tony Parker in Game 4 after he was lost for the season with a quadriceps injury in Game 2. Mills had 15 points in 30 minutes and Murray scored just two points in 15 minutes.

Rockets: Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon sat courtside.

The score after the first quarter was 21-19. Kevin Love finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Kyrie Irving pitched in with 16 points and five rebounds.

"He was there as long as I can remember", Beverley said wiping his tears away on the shoulder of his shirt.

Head coach Gregg Popovich made the necessary adjustments after the Game 1 loss and kept things status quo after his point guard went down in Game 2.

"He's a great source for me to read what we're doing that night in that game and what might be needed".

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