James Harden makes bold Houston claim after shock Utah defeat

03 May, 2018, 14:25 | Author: Virgil Todd
  • Dwyane Wade left and Le Bron James stand during the trophy presentation following the Miami Heat's Game 7 victory over the Boston Celtics in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals

The end of the second quarter and third quarter we picked it up, but it's a pretty good team out there. "Tonight, they kind of caught us off-guard", Houston's James Harden said. Credit to Utah, they came out strong, imposed their will, and hit their open shots.

As Sports Illustrated shared, the rookie recognized what is at stake even after the Game 2 win on the road, saying, "We've been here before".

After trailing by 25 points at halftime of the 110-96 loss in the series opener, the Jazz bolted to an early lead in this one and led by as many as 19 in the first half. The Rockets looked confused in the second half, with Harden struggling in the fourth quarter and Houston's drive-and-kick action stymied.

Ingles made a career-best seven three-pointers and Mitchell added 17 points and a franchise-rookie-record 11 assists for his first game this postseason in which he scored fewer than 20 points and didn't lead the team in scoring. Mitchell recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 assists, with Alec Burks (17), Jae Crowder (15), Rudy Gobert (15), and Derrick Favors (10) all scoring in double figures as well. And, after claiming a 94-92 lead on an Eric Gordon 3-pointer with 8:04 left, the Rockets collapsed defensively yet again, with Mitchell and Ingles fueling the Jazz to the upset victory.

Joe Ingles led the Jazz with a career-high 27 points.

P.J. Tucker then missed a driving layup, Exum secured the rebound and Ingles made another 3-pointer to give Utah a 12-point lead at 108-96 with 4:27 remaining, and the Rockets couldn't mount a rally from there.

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Exum also defensively harassed Harden and the Rockets' other All-Star guard, Chris Paul.

The Rockets inbounded the ball from the sideline and went right back to Harden, who forced another switch on Mitchell.

"Yeah, we flipped it", D'Antoni said.

"I've learned not to be content with him, to demand more and more from him", Jazz coach Quin Snyder said pregame, "because that's what he wants". 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. From that point, it was about getting to halftime for the Jazz, holding off the inevitable Houston flurry, in whatever form it might take.

More significantly, the Rockets were poor from three-point range - going just 10-for-37 - and looked out of sync for much of the night; with their bench putting up just 22 points. "We knew they were going to make runs". So they made adjustments, especially on the pick and roll. "So I said: 'Why come down with it?'" "It's just a question of how far and how quickly, and I thought they cut that gap and not only made it a game, but basically took control of the game".

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