The Houston Rockets showed no signs of a Game 1 hangover in their 118-98 win over the Utah Jazz in Game 2.
The margin might not have had all the flair of the 32-point win on Sunday (20 points still being nothing to laugh at), but it lacked none of the dominance. In Game 1, the Jazz kept it interesting until the Rockets blew them out in the second half. In this game, the Rockets took a commanding 20-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
The difference here being that Houston was able to knock down its threes. The Rockets may have made only three more three-pointers this time around, but they shot it at a very efficient 13-26 in the first half, 17-42 for the game.
P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon came up big for Houston on offense. Tucker dropped 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, 4-7 from three. Gordon dropped 16 points of his own, going 6-11 from the field, 3-6 from three.
After a slow start to the first half, Chris Paul introduced himself to the playoffs after taking over in the third quarter and keeping the Rockets’ margin as big as it was. Paul had a quiet 17 points on 5-11 shooting, 6-6 FT, 2 steals, and an immaculate 2 blocks.
James Harden followed up his great play in Game 1 with a completely dominant Game 2. The Beard got his first triple-double of the postseason with 32 points, 10 assists, and 13 rebounds with a +24 plus/minus. He also did it all in only 33 minutes while going 11-24 from the field, 6-13 from three.
Beyond their offense, the Rockets are showing the makings of team that can rule games on defense. Granted, the Jazz aren’t the most explosive team in the world, but holding the fifth seed in the West to less than 100 points in back-to-back games is impressive.
A combination of great defense from the Rockets and the Jazz’s inability to knock down shots has them shooting only 15-of-65 from three this series (23-percent), 8-of-38 this game. They also went only 39-98 total from the field in game 2.
The Rockets have done a good job of keeping the Jazz’s two heavy weights of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert out of it. Gobert took only 6 shots this game for 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Mitchell, who is always a prolific scorer, also scored 11 points, but he did it on 5-of-19 shooting from the floor. Royce O’Neale and Ricky Rubio led the way for the Jazz on offense, scoring 17 each.
The Houston Rockets have claimed a commanding 2-0 lead in the series, but will face their first real test as they step into Utah for the first time this Saturday. Game 3s are always a classic trap game for homecourt teams, and Houston has a chance to show their mettle if they can get the victory in Salt Lake City.