Harden Registers Triple-Double To Lead Rockets To 2-0 Lead Over Utah
HOUSTON, Texas – The Utah Jazz fell to an 0-2 deficit in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs with a 118-98 loss to the Houston Rockets.
Unable to steal a game on the road, the Jazz will look to get back in the series when the series shifts to Utah for Games 3 and 4.
From the start of the first quarter in which the Jazz surrendered the ball on their first two possessions, it was clear that Houston was in control.
The Rockets built a commanding 39-19 lead after the first quarter and never looked back en route to the wire-to-wire win.
Harden Flexes MVP Muscles
After implementing a strange-looking defensive strategy in Game 1 in which the Jazz defended Rockets star James Harden by shading him and forcing him to his weaker right-hand side, Utah went away from that tactic early in Game 2.
It didn’t seem to make a difference as the reigning league MVP feasted on the Jazz defense all night.
Harden was nearly unstoppable in Game 2, completing a triple-double by racking up 32 points to go along with 10 assists and 13 rebounds. He dominated in his 33 minutes on the floor with his outscoring the Jazz by 24 with Harden on the hardwood.
Chris Paul was also a major contributor with 17 points while Clint Capela had a strong game in the middle for Houston. While Capela scored just seven points, his work on the defensive end of the floor was a major factor in keeping Utah’s Rudy Gobert in check. He had three blocks in the win.
Mitchell, Gobert Struggle In Loss
Donovan Mitchell continued to struggle in the series going 5-for-19 from the floor for a total of 11 points. Mitchell, who averaged 23.8 points per game on 43.2 percent shooting during the regular season, has been held to just 15 points per game on 32.4 shooting in the first two games of the opening round series against the Rockets.
Gobert finished with a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds, but was unable to record a blocked shot and was a minus-20 in his time on the floor.
The Jazz did control the battle inside somewhat, outscoring the Rockets in the paint 58-38. That figure, however was overshadowed by the Rockets’ dominance from beyond the arc, as they converted on 17-of-42 3-pointer attempts. Utah, by comparison, had an awful shooting night from deep as the Jazz made just 8-of-38 from downtown.
Game 3 at Vivint Smart Home Arena will tip off Saturday at 8:30 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPN.