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Rockets aim to ‘impose will’ against Warriors

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by Agence France-Presse

The Houston Rockets are primed to dig deep to dig themselves out of an 0-2 hole in their NBA playoff series against the Golden State Warriors.

The Rockets host game three of the best-of-seven Western Conference series Saturday, and coach Mike D’Antoni says their chances of turning the series around comes down to one thing.

“Who imposes their will?” D’Antoni said Friday. “Champions come from your heart and your head and your willpower.

“You’ve got to get down in the mud. You’ve got to slug it out. That’s where you make champions. Champion is a personality thing. We’ve got to impose our will.”

D’Antoni’s comments echoed those of veteran point guard Chris Paul, who says the Rockets — who coughed up 31 turnovers in the first two games in Oakland, California.

More damaging was their dismal defensive rebounding. The Warriors have pulled down 26 offensive rebounds — more than one-third of their missed shots — to give themselves a big edge in second-chance points.

“We’ve got to do better rebounding and play better defensively and offensively everything will come,” Paul said. “I think defensively we’ve got to impose our will. When we get stops and get out in transition we’re one of the best teams in the league.

“If we rebound better we’ll be better.”

That’ll be true regardless of concerns over top scorer James Harden’s health. The 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player suffered a lacerated left eyelid when he was caught by a swipe from Golden State’s Draymond Green as they battled for the ball in game two.

Harden returned to the contest but was clearly in discomfort. Although the Rockets said he escaped a scratched cornea, the effects could still be seen Thursday in the reddened whites of his eyes.

Harden told reporters his vision was improving, although bright lights still caused him discomfort.