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Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Rockets: Game 2 is a must win

By Tom Haberstroh
ESPN.com

HOUSTON -- The Rockets are three losses from elimination, but that has done little to calm their sense of urgency against the Portland Trail Blazers.

James Harden
James Harden said Houston had Game 1 in hand until "we [made] some silly mistakes late in the fourth quarter." They lost in OT.

After losing Game 1, shooting guard James Harden doesn't want to entice the idea of heading to Portland down 2-0.

"This is a must-win for us, must-win," Harden said after the Rockets' morning shootaround. "We had Game 1 under our belt, but we [made] some silly mistakes late in the fourth quarter. We're confident and ready for Game 2."

The Rockets saw a double-digit lead with less than five minutes to go in regulation slip away in Game 1 and collapsed again in overtime after being up by six points. Historically, teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series go on to win the series 93.7 percent of the time (239-16).

Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin -- who missed practice Tuesday with the flu but is ready to play Wednesday -- echoed Harden's characterization of Game 2.

"To me, [Game 2 is] a must-win," Lin said. "In my mind, we have to win tonight and go up to Portland [on Friday] and win another one."

The Rockets will have a full squad available for Wednesday's game, but it certainly didn't look that way Sunday night after starting point guard Patrick Beverley limped off the floor with a knee injury. After an MRI on Monday morning revealed no further damage to his knee, the Rockets cleared Beverley to play in Game 2. He'd torn the meniscus in the same knee less than a month ago and missed eight games.

Beverley was excused from Wednesday's shootaround for a personal matter. He's expected to start Wednesday after participating in practices between games.

The Rockets split two games in Portland during the regular season.

Portland point guard Damian Lillard sees Game 2 as a swing game.

"You can look at it both ways," Lillard said. "We got one game on the road, which we set out to do. Or you could say we missed the opportunity to steal two games. We know it'll be tough, but we want to be greedy about the situation. We understand that we could have played better in Game 1, and we want to come out and be our best in Game 2 and get another win."

The Rockets hope to contain LaMarcus Aldridge, who tallied 46 points and 18 rebounds in Game 1, both team playoff records. But Harden wouldn't give any clues to what adjustments the team will make Wednesday.

"I mean, the guy had 46 points," Harden said. "There's nothing to talk about."