Rockets 110, Jazz 96 - A Good Start

By Forrest Walker on April 29, 2018

In the first quarter of the first half of the first game of the second round, the Houston Rockets came out of the gates at full speed, beginning not just the quarter, not just the game, but the series off strong, something that was a burning question mere hours ago. With only one game in the books in their series against the Utah Jazz, nothing is settled. But for James Harden and the Houston Rockets, this game augurs very well.

The Rockets scored 34 points in the first quarter. This is already an impressive showing against the second stingiest defense in the league, made even more so by the fact that the Jazz scored a mere 21 in that frame. The Rockets then doubled down, taking a 30-18 advantage in the second frame and entering halftime with a brutal 25-point lead. The second half saw a valiant effort from the Jazz, who cut it to 13 late in the game. It was not, however, enough.

The bad news for the Rockets, such as it was, was that Eric Gordon had a terrible game. He's struggled for some times now, and tonight's 0-6, 7 point performance was an utter nightmare. There was enough margin to account for this error today, but for the Rockets to achieve their championship aspirations, they'll need quite a bit more from their third guard. While we're at it, Ryan Anderson needs to do more than miss one shot and block one shot.

The rest of the news, however, is very good. The Rockets shot 32 threes, w touch on the low side for them, but more than enough to win this game. It was especially sufficient due to the 53% clip the hit them at, accounting for a massive 51 of their 110 points. Houston can't count on that sort of shooting performance, but Jazz also badly need to contest more looks from Houston.

Harden was, as ever, a buzzsaw. He scored 41 points on 26 shots to go with 8 rebounds,7 assists, a steal and only 3 turnovers. Chris Paul seemed ready to see the conference finals with a great performance of his own. He ended with 17 points on 50% shooting to go with his 4 boards and 6 assists, and this doesn't tell the story of how well he carved up the Jazz. Paul and Harden defeated the Jazz almost by themselves in the first half, making the rest of the game relatively stress-free for the Rockets.

This degree of shooting likely won't keep up. But Clint Capela (16 points, 13 shots, 12 rebounds) looks ready and able to sustain this level of dominance throughout the playoffs, and the Rockets should be able to keep overwhelming Utah's defense. There was a lot of good in the tea leaves for the Rockets today, and now it falls to them to keep their foot on the gas and close out this home stand up 2-0. Both teams are likely grateful for the two days off before Wednesday, and the next game will likely be more challenging that this drubbing.

Of course, with this Rockets team, you never know how dominant they can be.

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