The Houston Roundball Review is an online basketball publication
by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
Chris Paul's 41 points and 10 assists leads Rockets into the Western Conference Finals
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- Chris Paul scored 26 of his playoff career-high 41 points in the second half -- including a sensational 20 points in the fourth quarter (13 points in a row) -- to lead the Houston Rockets to a 112-102 Game 5 win over the Utah Jazz. With the win, the Rockets advance to the Western Conference Finals for the second time in 4 years.
Paul's virtuoso performance included 10 assists, 7 rebounds, and 0 turnovers. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player in NBA playoff history to have at least 40 points and 10 assists without committing a turnover since turnovers became an official statistic in 1977-'78.
P.J. Tucker scored a playoff career-high 19 points on 7 of 9 field goal shooting, including 5 of 7 on three-point shots. Over the past six games, Tucker is averaging 12.3 points per game on 58.7% field goal shooting (56.3% threes) after averaging 4.0 points per game on 25.0% field goal shooting (25.0% threes) the first four games of this postseason. Including this regular season, the Rockets are 19-2 when Tucker scores in double-figures and 34-2 when Tucker makes at least two 3-point shots in a game.
Chris Paul's performance overshadowed Donovan Mitchell's performance for Utah. Mitchell scored 22 points in the third and outscored the Rockets 22-21 in the third quarter as the Jazz turned a 53-46 Rockets' halftime lead into 78-75 Utah lead after three quarters.
With 7:13 on the clock in the 4th quarter, Mitchell hurt his foot on a play when James Harden stole the ball from him. Harden scored a layup to give the Rockets a 92-87 lead with 7:09 remaining in the game. During Utah's timeout, Mitchell was helped to the locker room. He did not return to the game. Mitchell finished the game with 24 points.
After the game, Mitchell's left foot was in a walking boot as a precaution.
When the Rockets led 94-89, Paul sank a three for a 97-89 lead; however, Utah went on a 7-0 run. Houston led 97-96 when Paul sank a three-point shot to boost the margin to four (100-96). Then, CP3 made an 18-foot jumper. Next, following a blocked shot by teammate Clint Capela, Chris Paul banked in a 25-foot three-point shot with the shot clock winding down for a 105-96 Rockets' lead.
"The things he (Chris Paul) does," Rockets Head Coach Mike D'Antoni after the game. "He just wields us to win. Even the bank shot, I mean given a break. That's just people trying to find a way.
"I had to keep him out there, I usually give him a rest for a couple of minutes. I didn't do that because we couldn't afford to do that with James (Harden) being sick a little bit.
"His performance tonight was off the charts. Couldn't happen for a better guy. He's been working all year for this. We're half way home; and, we know we haven't done anything yet; but, this was huge for us."
Utah's Joe Ingles scored a driving layup; but, Paul made a 17-foot jump shot for a 107-98 lead with 67 seconds remaining in the game.
Therefore, from a 94-89 lead to a lead of 107-98, Chris Paul scored all 13 of the Rockets' points during the stretch.
After Alec Burks scored a layup, Chris Paul dished to a wide open P.J. Tucker in the corner; and, Tucker swished the three for a 110-100 lead with 35.0 seconds remaining to ice the ball game.
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