Mike D’Antoni expects to sleep well in his room at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa ahead of Saturday’s Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals (8 ET, ESPN) with his team down 3-1 on the brink of elimination.
“I will be sleeping tonight with the knowledge that, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna do it,’” D’Antoni said. “Now, there is another team that’s really good. We’ll see how it goes. But they should get our best shot. If it’s good enough, then we’ll go to the next game after that.”
The Rockets are 2-10 all time when trailing 3-1 in a series. So, when the team met ahead of Friday’s practice session, it spent plenty of time discussing its experience with 3-1 series deficits.
The Lakers own a record of 35-1 all time when leading a series 3-1. But it was D’Antoni and the Phoenix Suns that handed Los Angeles its only loss (2006) with a 3-1 lead, and eventually won that series. James Harden, meanwhile, helped Houston rebound from a 3-1 deficit to the Los Angeles Clippers that featured Rockets reserve Austin Rivers in the 2015 Western Conference semifinals to advance to the conference finals.
“There’s a lot of guys that when we had our meeting that were in the room that have come down from 3-1 and have won,” D’Antoni said. “I did it in Phoenix against the Lakers. James did it against the Clippers. So, they’ve done it. Denver just now did it against Utah. So, yeah, it’s a one-game series. We’ve got to play to win one game. Then, the one thing we talked about [is] we want to give them our best shot. If our best shot’s not good enough, so be it. But we have not given in the three losses our best shot. We need to get back to that.”
It certainly won’t be easy.
Despite the 110-100 score in Game 4, the Los Angeles Lakers churned out their most dominating performance of the series in that contest they led by as many as 23 points and never trailed. The Lakers limited Houston’s top scorer Harden to a 2-for-11 shooting night, while feasting off the contributions of six double-figure scorers. They outscored Houston 62-24 in the paint, 19-2 on the break, and 17-3 in second-chance points.
Los Angeles even held the speedy Rockets to zero fast break points and zero second-chance points through the first three quarters of Game 4, which registered as a first in any playoff games since 1997, the start of the play-by-play era.
Rockets center P.J. Tucker admitted the difficulty in trying to summon the tenacity Saturday needed to rebound from a 3-1 series deficit after experiencing such a deflating loss in Game 4.