Facing the fifth-seeded Utah Jazz in a rematch of last year's Conference Semifinals, the fourth-seeded Rockets took a 1-0 series lead with a comfortable 32-point win at home.
Denver All-Star Nikola Jokic posted the fourth triple-double in Nuggets playoff history, with 10 points, 14 assists and 14 rebounds. Jokic must take more than the nine shots he took in game 1 for the Nuggets to win the series.
The Rockets also played stellar defense helping hold the Jazz to 30-of-77 shooting and 7-of-27 from the three-point line. "You're not stopping him, I don't care what you do".
They had the ball with 13 seconds left trailing 97-96 but Murray's shot was off - as it was all night - and Aldridge, who shot just 6 of 19 himself, corralled the rebound, then sank two free throws to make it 99-96 with 6.9 seconds remaining.
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Denver. "He's their guy, so they are going to try to move him around more and try to make me work and get him more quick shots".
Eric Gordon (17), Danuel House (11), P.J. Tucker (11) and Kenneth Faried (11) led a crew of secondary and bench players who dominated the Jazz all night. "If you get five turnovers, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and figure out how to adjust". The Jazz can certainly do a better job defending and will probably go back to defending straight up and possibly switching everything, but the Rockets are simply a bad matchup for the Jazz and there's no team in the league that can hang when everybody has the shot going.
The Rockets led by 17 when Harden re-entered the game about a minute later.
Mitchell ended a Utah scoring drought of about 4 ½ minutes after that with a 3-pointer, but Harden hit a 3 seconds later to leave the Rockets up 79-64. The Jazz were also victims of 18 turnovers. As San Antonio held a six-point lead and the ball with three minutes left, Spurs fans must have breathed sigh of relief only to be rapidly replaced with anguish as Murray wrestled the ball away from Rudy and converted a three-point play as Gay fouled him, cutting the lead in half with the home fans going insane. The Houston Rockets are allowing 25.9 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 42 rebounds per game. Hall of Famer and former Rocket Hakeem Olajuwon watched the game from a courtside seat.
Capela played despite dealing with an upper respiratory infection that kept him out of practice two days this week.
The upsets were good news for the league since many fans and media members feel the National Basketball Association playoffs are too predictable largely due to the seven game series that favors the top seeded teams. D'Antoni after the game said, "I thought we were a little careless".
Mitchell on moving on after the blowout loss: "Honestly we could have won this game by 90 or lost this game by 90. for us it's just about making adjustments and not overreacting to what happened".
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