Following a tough loss in Salt Lake City, the Houston Rockets came away victorious in a gritty 100-93 win over the Utah Jazz, Wednesday night, in the Toyota Center in Houston. With the win, the Rockets eliminated the Jazz in five quick games, winning the first-round series 4-1.
Coming out of the gates, struggling from the field, it was a tale of two halves for the Rockets. Despite opening the game on an 8-0 run, Utah’s tough defense helped the Jazz stay even with the Rockets following the conclusion of the first quarter at 20 points apiece.
Unfortunately for Utah, Houston’s cold start would not carry over to the rest of the game, as the Rockets took a 46-42 lead into halftime. Despite their shooting woes in the first 24 minutes (16-40 from the field, 6-19 from deep), the Rockets offense began to come alive in the second half.
Houston went on to outscore the Jazz 29-27 in the third to take a 75-69 lead into the fourth quarter. And after a few close calls late in the final period, the Rockets grind their way to victory in the final minutes of the game.
After scoring 32 points in Game 2, the Jazz defensive efforts made it a living nightmare for James Harden. Although he ended the game with 26 points (10-26 from the field), six rebounds, and six assists, Harden’s performance in Game 5 as far from his MVP stature.
The Beard went scoreless from the field shooting 0-for-6 in the first quarter and was once 1-for-11 midway through the second. After closing the half on a personal 6-0 run, Harden went on to hit a few clutch buckets down the stretch to seal the deal for the Rockets.
In the mix of Harden’s struggles, Clint Capela came up huge in the win with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Eric Gordon chipped in 15 points on 4-for-8 shooting from behind the arc. Similar to his backcourt mate, Chris Paul also had a sub-par performance, but ended the night with 15 points, eight rebounds, and five assists on the night.
For Utah, Royce O’Neale led the Jazz in scoring with 18 points, as Ricky Rubio added in 17 points in the loss. After averaging 32.5 points over the last two games, the Rockets held Donovan Mitchell to 12 points on 22 percent shooting from the field.
As they prepare for the Western Conference Semi-Finals, the Rockets will face the winner of the Warriors and Clippers series, schedule TBD.