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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.
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Rockets rout Jazz, 118-98, to take 2-0 series lead
Posted: April 18, 2019 -- 7:55 a.m. CT
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- James Harden posted a triple-double (32 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists) to lead the Houston Rockets to a 118-98 rout of the Utah Jazz Wednesday night in Game 2 of the 2019 NBA First Round Playoffs match-up.
Harden was a maestro in the first quarter as he conducted the Rockets' offense efficiently and effectively as well as confounded Utah's defense. Harden finished the first quarter with 17 points (5 for 10 fgs, 3 for 6 threes); 4 rebounds; and 4 assists. In the first quarter.
Houston led Utah 39-19 at end of the first quarter. Utah did not get closer than 14 points the rest of the ball game.
"I think we came out aggressive," Chris Paul said. "Luckily, we have a core group of guys that were here last season. We remember playing those guys and losing game two. So, we just wanted to come out with high energy, and be focused, and ready to play."
With the win tonight, the Rockets take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series against the Jazz. In NBA playoff history, a team has overcome a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series 20 times, including Houston twice (Conference Semifinals vs. Phoenix in 1994 and 1995) and Utah once against the Rockets in the First Round of the 2007 playoffs.
Despite the 2-0 lead, Rockets' guard Austin Rivers said, "All we did is take care of home court, like we were supposed to do. That's why you fight to get home court. You're supposed to win these games. These games don't mean anything if we go to Utah and lose both of those. At the end of the day, it's just great, we're up 2-0; but, we have two more to get, and we have to go do our job."
In NBA playoff history, a team has overcome a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series 20 times, including Houston twice (Conference Semifinals vs. Phoenix in 1994 and 1995) and Utah once against the Rockets in the First Round of the 2007 playoffs.
Houston led 70-44 at halftime. Harden had 25 points, 7 boards, and 7 assists in the half.
Utah trimmed 9 points off Houston's lead in the third quarter to pull within 17 (83-66); however, Houston outscored Utah 12-1 in the final 4:15 of the quarter to lead 95-67 after 36 minutes.
P.J. Tucker finished the game with 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting tonight, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range. Tucker's averaging 13.5 points per game on 56.3% shooting this series, including 7-of-14 from behind-the-arc.
Eric Gordon had 16 points tonight on 6-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range. He's averaging 16.5 points per game on 52.4% shooting this series, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range.
The Rockets made 17 3-pointers on 40.5% (17 for 42) shooting while the Jazz made 8 threes on 21.1% (8 for 38) shooting. Houston has made more than twice as many threes (32-15) as Utah this series after only having made 7 more threes in the four regular season meetings (Houston: 30.3% 3FGs in those games). The Jazz are shooting 15-of-65 (23.1% 3FGs) from behind-the-arc this series after shooting 28.5% in the season series against the Rockets.
"Yeah, we're locked in, James Harden remarked. "I think some of the things we didn't do well in game two, we didn't take care of the basketball. I think we had 18 turnovers, like that's way too many. Like I said (in the) on-court interview, that we can't have 18 turnovers on the road. They (Utah) capitalize, especially at home with threes and layups. So, we've got to take care of the basketball, get good shots, and that allows our defense to get back and set up."
Utah Head Coach Quin Snyder said, "We're going home. They did what they needed to do here and beat us soundly both games; but, our group has been a group that's always responded and that's what we have to do going home. We have to be better. We played poorly and we have to be better; and, that'll be the focus."
Houston improves to 8-0 at home in the First Round since Mike D'Antoni became head coach in 2016-17.
Utah has lost eight of its past 10 road playoff games dating back to 2017 (1-4 vs. Houston over that span).
Game 3 of this first round series versus the Jazz is Saturday, April 20, at 9:30 p.m. CT
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