Harden has averaged nearly 36 points a game in five meetings between the two teams this season. He made seven 3-pointers in that game, leaving the Jazz focused on limiting him from long range. In an agonizing sequence starting with seven seconds left and the score tied, Fred VanVleet missed a 3, and DeMar DeRozan, C.J. Miles and Jonas Valanciunas all missed fairly easy put-backs.
"They came out with some thrust in that first half and they made shots, but they were wide open shots. Make sure we dictate what they do".
Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said Mitchell was the key to the win even though he didn't lead the team in scoring. "Now, he might play bad and that's because he's human". Sometimes you see it from another player's putback.
After taking just four shots in Game 1 and finishing with 11 points, Gobert got going early Wednesday and had 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting by halftime. "So I figured, why not come down with it?" The rookie squatted into his stance, holding his arms nearly comically to his sides, shuffling against the grain as Harden tried to drive him. "I thought he not only made some creative passes, but he made some simple passes that were reflective of him making the right decisions". I felt that they were doing everything harder, they were rebounding harder, so everything was hard. "I would let them try to figure it out on their own".
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The Jazz, who didn't wrap up their first-round series with Oklahoma City until late Friday night, looked sluggish and struggled to keep pace with the top-seeded Rockets, who hadn't played since eliminating Minnesota on Wednesday.
"Give them credit", Harden said.
The Jazz refused to use fatigue as an excuse for their poor performance in Game 1, but they did admit that they were feeling better about this game with a little bit of rest.
"It's a quick turnaround obviously and there's some fatigue", Mitchell said. In the final 6½ minutes, Harden scored as many points on free throws as the Jazz did total. Harden was an absolute maestro in Game 1. I don't think any of our heads were ever down. After getting blown out by the Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, Snyder got his men ready to play and they came out firing. The Rockets believe Rubio's absence changed things for Mitchell.