James Harden scores 29 as Rockets rout Jazz in Game 1

Aubrey Yates
April 15, 2019

Jazz spread in Game 1 on Sunday against a Utah team that came on strong as the NBA Playoffs 2019 approached. He missed four of the last five regular-season games because of back spasms.

Moving on to Game 2, it's unclear if Jazz coach Quin Snyder will continue to stay with this strategy and just gamble on the Rockets missing their outside shots.

Recording a near triple-double with 29 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in 32 minutes, Harden did a majority of his damage - 17 points and seven assists - in the first half.

The Jazz have been a solid defensive team this season, giving up just 106.5 points per game. Offensively, the Jazz are putting up 111.7 points per game while shooting 46.8 percent from the floor and 35.6 percent from the arc.

The Jazz did slow down the Beard slightly, limiting him to only three free-throw attempts (11.0 season average), but couldn't stop his overall impact.

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A play earlier, Murray missed a wide open 16-foot shot that would have given the Nuggets a one point lead with about nine seconds remaining. Again, this is the playoffs and not much from the regular season carries over, but one thing the Rockets rarely do is let the first 12 minutes go by without getting a good offensive effort from Harden, who led the National Basketball Association in first quarter scoring at 9.6 points per first quarter - a full point better than any other player. Still, Houston has won eight of their last 10.

Eric Gordon chipped in 17 points for Houston, which shot 50.5 percent and posted a 42-41 advantage on the glass.

Pick up the pace - As Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni noted Saturday, they need to push the pace against Utah and avoid running the shot clock down repeatedly. The Rockets are 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 home games, 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 vs.

For the Nuggets, who finished with the second best record in the Western Conference; yesterday was their chance to show the doubters that they are for real and can compete with the Golden State Warriors, but the Spurs showed them the importance of having an experienced team come playoff time.

These two split the season series, but Houston took the last two meetings. The stylistic contrast features Houston's second-rated offense, led by James Harden, going up against Utah's rugged second-ranked defense. I think the Rockets and Harden will score at a pace that the Jazz just can't sustain, especially down the stretch.

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