The Rockets put forth an uninspired effort in the first half, allowing the Jazz to jump out to a 19 point lead before rallying in the third. Ultimately, a series of bad shots and Utah runs cost Houston their first loss of the season, 116-108. They now head to Salt Lake City and must win on the road in order to take the series.
The Jazz were feisty and shot extremely well from the field, particularly from three. The Rockets did not help themselves by allowing wide open shot after wide open shot. James Harden had 32 points and 11 assists in the loss while Joe Ingles had 27 points including 7 three pointers for the Jazz.
4. Ryan Anderson
As Jeff Van Gundy once said about one of his Rockets players, "Have they put you on the back of a milk carton yet?" Anderson was the starter at power forward at the beginning of the season. Now, he is relegated to a few minutes per night. He is just too much of a defensive liability and not enough of a reliable shooter.
3. Home court advantage.
The Rockets certainly hope it is overrated because they lost it Wednesday night. What they will face in Utah is something the Jazz didn't get in Houston, insane, loud, obnoxious fans from the tip to the final buzzer. Few of those were in attendance at Toyota Center as the Rockets crowds once again were lackluster.
2. Houston's defense.
Reminiscent of game three in Minnesota, the Rockets defense was filled with holes that allowed Jazz players to repeatedly get to the rim and find open shooters. It also got Houston into foul trouble early. The lack of perimeter defense for the Rockets is a concern going forward.
1. This Utah fan.
A perfect illustration of why Jazz fans are so hated.
4. Utah's shooting.
Say what you will about the Jazz defense, and it was good in game two, their shooting was lights out. They were 15-32 from behind the arc and 43-84 overall from the floor. The Rockets defense was part of the problem, but the Jazz hit shot after shot they needed to make and it was the difference maker.
3. James Harden
Unless the Rockets win an NBA title, Harden is going to take grief. He is, for some reason, just not a well liked guy among casual fans. But, whatever you may think about him and his struggles in the playoffs, he has been outstanding this postseason. He is averaging a playoff career high 31 points while shooting 42 percent from three. On Wednesday, he was one of the lone bright spots for the Rockets.
2. Wide open shots from Joe Ingles.
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It's hard to tell who was supposed to guard Ingles because no one was. The guy was so wide open, on a couple occasions he casually lined up the laces on the ball before shooting. Most decent NBA shooters will make teams pay for that kind of lazy defense. Ingles is a good shooter and he killed the Rockets on those shots.
1. This ridiculous dunk by Donovan Mitchell.
There is a reason this kid won the dunk competition. Dang.