After falling behind by 26 in the first half, the Utah Jazz showed some fight in the final two quarters-though it wasn't enough to prevent a 118-98 loss as the Rockets took a 2-0 series lead Wednesday night in Houston.
James Harden led all scorers with 17 points (on 5-for-10 shooting) to go along with four assists in under 10 minutes of action, while Eric Gordon added eight points on a ideal 3-for-3 shooting from the field.
No matter how well you play in the regular season, it's the playoffs that determine whether or not you're going to win an National Basketball Association championship. They've held them to 90 points in Game 1 and then 98 points in Game 2 and they've been absolutely solid on that end of the floor.
The danger of a Game Two at home after a Game One victory was clearly not lost on the Houston Rockets.
With only a couple of moments in the third quarter as an exception, the Rockets were once again dominant on the defensive end of the floor.
"The Rockets are playing at an unbelievably high level", Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said.
While Houston owned the perimeter, the Jazz fared well around the hoop, outscoring the Rockets 58-38 in the paint. We have to go on the road and have the same energy - especially on the defensive end. "They're going to make plays".
Grayson Allen or Ted Cruz? Numerous turnovers were ugly, the result of lazy passes or lazy plays.
Utah's best player has been a non-factor in this series. Jazz star Donovan Mitchell struggled offensively, finishing with just 11 points on 5-of-19 from the field.
During the regular season, only the Warriors had a better first half offensive efficiency.
Houston's Chris Paul is still one of the best point guards in the league, as long as he stays healthy. The Rockets strategy of leaving certain players open - cough.Ricky Rubio.cough - and closing out hard on others has clearly had an impact on Jazz shooters. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.