Rockets 118, Jazz 98 - Second Verse

By Forrest Walker on April 17, 2019

The Houston Rockets had a chance to assert themselves in game two and set themselves apart in the Western Conference as as not just a quality team, but as a force to be reckoned with. In the wake of a massive victory in game one, it's not only possible but common for a team to let up and give away game two. To their credit, the Rockets did exactly what they needed to. This was a game that wasn't competitive at any point and the Rockets never trailed. The Rockets want to prove that they are who they say they are, and across two games, they've given us no reason to doubt.

"So far, so good" might seem like faint praise, but two games into the playoffs, it's the only praise possible. As James Harden packs his bags for the trip to Utah, he's sitting on a (somewhat ill-advised) triple double, a 32-point, 6-13 from behind the arc evening in which nothing could stop him from getting what he wanted. From his early-game breaking of Ricky Rubio's ankles to his play in garbage time to get ten assists, James Harden was the center of the game and nothing Utah did seemed to have any effect. The Jazz once again tried their radical defense on Harden, trying to force him to go right by playing so far to his left that Rubio was mostly behind him.

As with Sunday's game one, Harden made them pay dearly for it. Unlike Sunday, Houston's role players started the game hot, hitting the shots Harden found for them and opening up an early lead. The Rockets were up by twenty points after the first quarter, and it is to Utah's immense credit that they ended the game with the same deficit. The lead shrank to as small as seventeen and ballooned to twenty-eight.

There's little to say about another game which strongly resembled the first. The worst that can be said for Houston is that they gave up too many corner threes and that they let their foot off the gas a bit in the second half. Neither the Houston Rockets nor the Utah Jazz gave anyone any reason to suspect the series has changed. If the Jazz continue their devotion to their special Harden defense without somehow getting better at it, there's reason to believe this series might not even make it back to Houston.

It may be that the Jazz are damned if they do, and damned if they don't. That's exactly how the Rockets want it, and so far they're getting everything they want . The second verse was almost exactly the same as the first verse, and now the Rockets have a chance to go into Utah and add on a third verse. This series is only two games in, but so far nobody has been given any reason to believe Houston isn't in complete control.

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