Joe Ingles led the Jazz with a career-high 27 points, but it was the rookie guard who provided the highlight of the night as the Jazz evened the Western Conference semifinals 1-1 with a 116-108 win in Houston. The Rockets lead the series 1-0 after defeating the Utah Jazz 110-96 in the series opener.
Every member of the supporting cast needs to be at their best in order for Utah to steal a game in Houston before returning home. The Rockets are the NBA's top team and dispatched the Minnesota Timberwolves in 5 games in round 1.
Can the Jazz make the defensive adjustments necessary to slow James Harden?
Mike D'Antoni, asked about Jazz not having an answer for James Harden. The Jazz are +11.0 against the Houston Rockets in game 2. The Houston bench only accounted for 13 combined points in their series opening victory. Houston, which led the National Basketball Association in threes per game (15.3) during the regular season, shot only 10-for-37 (27.0 percent) from 3-point range. The Rockets know that they will come out stronger for Game 2 than they did in the first game blowout.
James Harden vs everybody - It takes more than one man to stop Harden. This series is turning out to be more competitive than it appeared it'd be after Game 1.
The Rockets are probably not gonna lose too many games where Harden, CP3, and Clint Capela all score over 20, but they did this time. But shots were falling for the Jazz in the fourth quarter, and the lane was open for slams by Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.
Playing once again without Ricky Rubio, Utah stormed out of the gates behind Donovan Mitchell's playmaking and Joe Ingles' shooting. Young Dante Exum put the exclamation mark on Utah's win with a monstrous fourth quarter dunk that sucked what little air was left completely out of the Toyota Centre.
The Jazz provided the clearest indication of their readiness with the early utilization of their bigs, with Gobert and Derrick Favors slipping screens and earning uncontested shots at the rim. Now we'll see if the Jazz, who lead by 17, can maintain this cushion before the break, or if the Rockets can make a dent in the lead heading into halftime. After two Houston baskets, Mitchell dished to Gobert (for a dunk) and to Burks (for another layup).
Mitchell, speaking to TNT postgame, said of the Jazz's resilience, "That's in our DNA, that's in our character, to withstand the run". Now, the Jazz head home in an even series and home-court advantage in what has become a best-of-five.
Think about it - the Jazz just got through grinding out a tough win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in their Game 7 match up that Friday night and had to take a plane ride to H-Town to start the series at our house. Get your 100% signup bonus today.
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