The Houston Rockets incredible 122-90 blowout of the Utah Jazz in Game 1 was a testament to improving to what they were lacking during the season. Look.
The Houston Rockets have officially started the quest for acquiring their third Larry O’Brien trophy and from what we’ve seen so far, there’s going to be some serious wrangling in the playoffs from this team in order emerge from the dust as the last men standing.
I had my concerns against how the Houston Rockets were going to deal with the Utah Jazz, who were the No. 2 team in defensive efficiency this season. It’s that specific formula that factors into why it has made their first-round foe successful so we should be rightfully concerned.
Nonetheless, the Houston Rockets sleepwalked into Game 1 with a calm and collective attitude and were easily able to keep them at bay without breaking much sweat.
The Houston Rockets were able to hit wide-open threes and it amazed me as to how many corner threes P.J. Tucker was able to hit in Sunday night’s game. It was as if he dared them to go and guard him and the Jazz didn’t want any parts of it.
I just watched as he nailed the first, the second and finally the third before the Jazz’s defense started to pay more attention to him. I truly wonder if Mike D’Antoni told Tucker to just practice shooting corner threes because it’s going to be a strategic part of the game plan. It was a beautiful thing to see but Tucker’s been there before — 70.3 percent of Tucker’s threes came from the corner in 2018-19 and he nailed them at a 39.3 percent clip.
It’s amazing that Quin Snyder didn’t know this and D’Antoni continued to challenge the Jazz while they let Tucker destroy any chances of them getting back into the game. Although Tucker has limited playoff experience in his career, he is a career 46.9 percent shooter from the corner in this metric.
And do you want to know another thing?
The Houston Rockets were able to rack up 25 assists Sunday which is 14.5 more than their season average against the Jazz. The team moved the ball around well, and they were hitting their
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shots. They ended up shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from three which was certainly good enough beat the Jazz by a 32-point margin.
It’s important to note that 17 of those 25 assists came from Harden (10) and Chris Paul (seven), constituting 68 percent of the team’s total. The ball flowing efficiently through the hands of these talented men and this team is benefitting from it.
The Jazz did have success in containing James Harden by forcing to his right at times but there was no help in the interior so Harden was still able to get to the basket for the lay-in as well as a few floaters that he was able to successfully put up.
In fact, Harden finished with 29 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds with just three turnovers to his credit. He shot 11-for-26 from the field, 4-for-10 from three and his plus-minus was a (+18).
This is despite having 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert manning the paint. He was basically a statue and was powerless against the Houston Rockets prolific scoring attack. They also were able to get 35 points off the bench, including 11 each from Kenneth Faried and Danuel House.
Seven members of the Houston Rockets were also in double-figures.
Will we see thing tonight as these teams reconvene for Game 2? Likely not but there’s a good chance that the Jazz may not be able to figure that plethora of magic tricks that D’Antoni has up his sleeve.
We’ll have to keep our eye out!
The Houston Rockets have a second date with the Jazz tonight at Toyota Center and it won’t be chivalrous. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. CDT. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet — Southwest/TNT and broadcast on NewsRadio 740 AM (KTRH) and La Ranchera 850 AM (KEYH) in Spanish.