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Stephen Curry urges aggressiveness, discipline as measures to combat Rockets’ iso ball

stephen curry

The Houston Rockets bounced back firmly against the Golden State Warriors to even up the Western Conference Finals after a 127-105 Game 2 win on Wednesday night. Stephen Curry, who was the usual suspect targeted in their famed isolation matchups, was the primary defender in 23 plays after facing 20 in Game 1, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes.

Yet Curry was far from the issue, as Houston shot 7-of-15 in plays in which he defended, raising questions to the barrage of open layups and 3-pointers the Rockets were able to get within the game.

“They made shots,” Curry said about the Rockets’ high point total. “We were just a step slow on our rotations and our switches. Guys got into the paint. We know their M.O. is isolation, trying to get dribble drives, get the ball in the paint. … We’ve got to respond with some more aggressiveness and more discipline on the defensive end.”

While the Rockets stayed true to their isolation style, they were no longer being forced into constant shot-clock violations or getting down to the last five seconds to tee up a shot, rather making quick decisions and passing the ball accordingly — catching the defending champions off guard.

“We were trying to be too cute with our [defensive] exchanges and our switches and all that stuff instead of just manning up and playing one-on-one defense,” Curry said. “Whether they score or not, as hard as we’re working on the defensive end, they’re working as hard on the offensive end to get shots up. That was the difference between Game 1 and Game 2. They made a concerted effort to turn those one-on-one situations into a little bit more ball movement, and we were just a step slow, myself included.”

James Harden was true to his historically-poor shooting performance in Game 2, making only 9-of-24 (37.5 percent) shots from the field, including a woeful 3-of-15 from deep, but it was the likes of Eric Gordon (27 points) and P.J. Tucker with a playoff career-high 22 points (8-of-9 shooting) who made all the difference this time around.