The Houston Rockets fell behind big early to the Utah Jazz tonight, and though they were able to scrape and claw their way back into the game in the second half, they couldn’t hit a shot down the stretch and they fell to Utah 116-108 to tie up their second-round series a 1-1.
Joe Ingles went off for 27 points on 10-13 shooting and 7-9 from deep, and Donovan Mitchell put up 17 points and 11 assists, including what might be the dunk of the postseason thus far:
Overall, the Jazz beat the Rockets at their own game tonight, as they went 15-32 from beyond the arc and shot 51 percent overall from the field. The Rockets shot well in just one quarter (the third), and overall were a pretty icy 40 percent from the field and 10-37 from deep. They were particularly cold in the fourth quarter with the game on the line, in which they hit on just 25 percent of their shots.
The game was there for the taking in the second half. After giving up 62 points and 56 percent shooting to Utah in the first half, the Rockets burst out on a 29-9 run to take the lead, and the two teams battled neck-and-neck to close out the third period.
The Rockets just didn’t have their closers tonight, as they clanged open shot after open shot in the fourth, and though the defense forced several turnovers down the stretch, the Houston shooters just couldn’t take advantage.
The Rockets were led by James Harden, who finished with 32 points, 7 rebounds, and 11 assists, while shooting 9-22 (he was just 2-10 from deep). He also threw down this gem:
They also got 23 points from Chris Paul to go along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
Clint Capela had another strong game, putting up 21 points, 11 boards, and 2 blocks, while shooting 10-15 from the floor. Eric Gordon also scored in double figures with 15, but he was 5-16 from the field, and despite hitting two threes in one of the only major Rocket contributions in the fourth, he generally looked bad on both offense and defense.
Houston got no other offensive contributions, as Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker, Ryan Anderson, Gerald Green and Luc Mbah a Moute combined to go 6-23 shooting from the field.
The Jazz, on the other hand, got help up and down their roster. In addition to Mitchell and Ingles, they also got 17 points and 6 assists from Alec Burks, 15 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 blocks from Rudy Gobert, and 10 points from Derrick Favors. Even Dante Exum had a decent game for the Jazz, putting up 9 points and 4 rebounds.
The series now heads back to Utah, where the Jazz will have some confidence after beating the Rockets for the first time this season. Game 3 is on Friday night, and the Rockets will need to play 48 minutes of defense as a team and get more offensive contributions from their role players if they don’t want to wind up down in the series heading into the weekend.