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Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni thinks win over Heat was more than just a victory

Mike D'Antoni, Rockets, Heat

A win is a win in the standings, but not in NBA locker rooms. Some victories, Mike D’Antoni knows as well as anyone, mean far more than others, and he believes his team got one of them on Thursday night. The Houston Rockets stormed back from an 18-point second-half deficit to beat the Miami Heat 121-118, a “character-building” win their coach says will come in handy during the postseason.

“This was a big win for a lot of reasons, spirit-wise, we did it the right way,” D’Antoni  told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “We got after it defensively. We were shorthanded. Back-to-back. This was a character win. When you get into the playoffs that’s what counts, character and brains and we had both of them tonight.”

All true. The Rockets were playing without three key rotation players in Eric Gordon, Iman Shumpert, and Kenneth Faried. P.J. Tucker, their most important defender, was ejected in the third quarter after aggressively complaining about a questionable offensive foul call. Houston was on the second leg of a back-to-back, too, making their late-game comeback all the more impressive.

Still, this victory was about James Harden being one of the best offensive players ever more than anything else. The reigning MVP staked a strong claim for a second Maurice Podoloff trophy against the Heat, scoring 34 of his 58 points in the second half. He shot 16-of-32 from the field, 8-of-18 from three, and a perfect 18-of-18 at the line. Harden added seven rebounds and 10 assists, too.

Was this an important win for the Rockets? Absolutely, but they won’t be able to count on Harden digging them out of a hole whenever necessary come playoff time…right?

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