HOUSTON — As the most analytically obsessed team in the league, the Houston Rockets have a number for everything. Three-point shots. Shots at the rim. Free throws. They ruthlessly hunt the most mathematically supported shots, avoid inefficiency at all costs, and they don't stray from the fundamental belief that these numbers, when applied over time and without emotion, will eventually add up to an NBAchampionship -- or at least to beating the Warriors and then seeing what happens from there.
They're getting pretty damn close to being right. The Rockets beat Golden State for the second straight time in Game 4 on Monday, 112-108, to even their second-round series at two games apiece. They again, for the most part, played by their book. James Harden launched 17 3-pointers. Houston as a team put up 50 threes -- 17 more than Golden State. Even though the Rockets only made 34 percent of these triples, the volume won out, with Houston outscoring Golden State by 27 points from beyond the arc in a game they won by four. They believe in these numbers.
And yet, what has really gotten the Rockets back into this series, and perhaps in control of it depending on your perspective, is the one thing you can't measure: Heart. It sounds romantically cliché, I know. But it's true. Fact is, if you want to talk numbers, over 93 percent of teams that go down 2-0 in a best-of-seven series end up losing that series. When the Rockets lost the first two games in Oakland, they could've easily packed it in. But they didn't.