HOUSTON (AP) — After Houston completed the biggest comeback in franchise history, Russell Westbrook was asked about the key to the win.
The star guard didn’t speak for several seconds. He simply patted his chest several times, crediting the Rockets’ heart for the victory.
Westbrook scored 31 points, James Harden had 28 and Houston set a franchise record by overcoming a 25-point deficit to beat the San Antonio Spurs 109-107 yesterday.
“Sometimes you’ve got to want it more than the other team,” Westbrook said. “It’s that simple. No plays or no possessions or no shots can change that.”
The comeback eclipses the 23-point deficit Houston faced in a 110-107 victory against Portland on January 22, 1977.
The game was tied with over two minutes remaining when Houston’s PJ Tucker hit a three-pointer from the corner. A layup by Rudy Gay got the Spurs within one with just under a minute left before Harden missed a three on the other end.
A three-pointer by Bryn Forbes rolled on the rim before bouncing out, and Harden made two free throws to extend the lead to 109-106 with 16.2 seconds left.
Forbes missed another three with 10 seconds left, but the Spurs got the ball back when Clint Capela knocked the ball out of bounds while fighting for a rebound. The Rockets then intentionally fouled two times, and Derrick White made a free throw before purposely missing the second one with 2.7 seconds left. But Westbrook grabbed the rebound to secure the win.
Houston fell behind early in a game where Harden had just nine points on four-of-17 shooting in the first half. He warmed up after the break and finished 10 of 29.
“My confidence is never gone, no matter if I go zero for 20 or whatever,” he said.
“I’m always going to shoot the ball and be aggressive. Early my shot wasn’t falling … and then other guys stepped up.”
The Spurs managed just 35 points after setting a season high for first-half scoring. LaMarcus Aldridge led San Antonio with 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Forbes had 18 points.
“Some ways it’s like your worst nightmare to go up 20 quickly because you know the thing is going to turn to some degree,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.
“So the way it was an even game down the stretch is pretty much what you’d expect most of the time.”