Kevin Eschenfelder: ‘Dwight Howard Isn’t Soft’

The Houston Rockets had a golden (no pun intended) opportunity to steal Game 1 on the road in Golden State, and they had a golden (still no pun intended) opportunity to steal Game 2. They stole neither.

In fact, they couldn’t even get a potential game-winning shot off at the end of Game 2, losing 99-98 on Thursday.

“It’s one of those deals. They just dug the basketball out,” Root Sports Southwest anchor Kevin Eschenfelder said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I get it. You would think, ‘How do you not get a shot off?’ Yeah, I can see the disappointment. But just the way it worked out, they were down, what, 17 in the second quarter, fought back, tied it at halftime. I’m really impressed with the Rockets when you take into consideration the prohibitive favorites it seems like everybody thought Golden State was going to be. I know there’s no moral victories in the playoffs, but they fought the good fight in these last two games. It would have been nice to see them from a Rockets perspective at least to have gotten a look there at the end of the ball game.”

The Rockets lost both games at ORACLE by a combined five points. They were right there in both games – and Scott Ferrall believes they’ll win at least one of the next two games in Houston.

“ORACLE and Portland when it’s rocking – two best arenas, to me, in the NBA,” Eschenfelder said. “The Toyota Center, they can get that rocking, too. They play well there. It’s just the playoffs, man. You know how it is. Anything can happen. After Game 1, I thought . . . the Rockets swung and missed. That was their shot. But they played well tonight and were right there in the game. So absolutely they have a chance to take care of business on their home court without question. It’s not a series until the road team wins, so we’ll see what happens.”

Whatever happens in Game 3, Ferrall believes Dwight Howard deserves a tip of the cap for his performance in Game 2. It was uncertain whether Howard would even play after sustaining a knee injury in Game 1. Well, not only did Howard play, but he had 19 points, 17 rebounds, two steals and a block.

That’s a gutsy performance.

“I totally agree,” Eschenfelder said. “I’m telling you, go back to the series last year when Damian Lillard hit the game-winner. Everybody thinks about that. I’m telling you, Dwight Howard was a m-a-n man. He played tough. He’s a tough guy.”

Eschenfelder acknowledged that Howard – who has averaged at least 15 points per game for 10 straight seasons – will probably never be a great offensive center on par with, say, Hakeem Olajuwon. But he’s still a special player.

“From rim protection, doing what he does, I’ll tell you: I’ll put Dwight Howard on my team any day of the week,” Eschenfelder said. “If anybody thinks Dwight Howard is soft, then they don’t watch Dwight Howard play day in and day out like I do.”

Game 3 is Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.

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