After taking the first two games on the road against Dallas in their playoff series, Coach Jeff Van Gundy reminded the Rockets that the franchise has been here before from the other side.
The locker room was rocking.
The Rockets had not just won Game 2 to take a 2-0 lead in their playoff series with the Dallas Mavericks, they had won a sensational game with a thrilling fin- ish.
Then coach Jeff Van Gundy entered the room, bringing a question. Van Gundy asked if anyone knew how the Rockets' "Clutch City" nickname was born.
No player raised his hand.
Van Gundy gave them more than a history lesson. The Rockets received a warning.
The Rockets were told that their 1994 descendants lost the first two games of a playoff series at home, as the Mavericks have, and headed to Phoenix in desperate trouble. The Rockets rallied to win Game 3, won the series and beat the Knicks, with Van Gundy a Knicks assistant, for the NBA championship. And "Clutch City" was born.
"I could tell he had that ready as soon as we won Game 2," Rockets guard Bob Sura said. "That's the first thing out of his mouth. We're all aware of it now.
"The locker room was clearly excited. Guys were pretty fired up. He came in in his typical manner. 'Sit down for a second. Does anybody know where the Clutch City thing came from?' He refreshed our memory pretty quick."
Only 14 NBA teams have done what the Rockets have done in the series, winning Games 1 and 2 on the road.
Of those 14, only two failed to win the series, most recently the Suns, as the Rockets drove to their first championship, turning the Western Conference semifinals around in Phoenix after dropping the first two games at The Summit.
No team has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA playoff series.