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Rockets Advance After Game 5 Win Over Jazz

Rockets win series 4-1

April 25, 2019 - 1:02 am

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- The Rockets are headed back to the Western Conference Semifinals for the third straight year after finishing off the Utah Jazz with a 100-93 win in game five Wednesday night at Toyota Center.

It marks the first time the Rockets have advanced in the playoffs three straight years since the team did so in five straight postseasons from 1993-97.

James Harden started the game slowly, but finished with 26 points, six rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Clint Capela added 16 points and 10 rebounds, awhile Eric Gordon and Chris Paul added 15 points.

Houston made its first three shots and jumped out to an 8-0 lead only to make 4-of-16 shots the rest of the first quarter and it ended with the game tied at 20. Paul's 17-footer on the Rockets first possession of the second quarter broke the tie, but Jae Crowder answered with a 3-pointer to give the Jazz their first lead of the night, starting a 7-0 run. The Rockets scored the next six to regain the lead only to see the Jazz answer with a 12-4 burst. That didn't last as Harden, who missed his first seven shots and started the game 1-of-11 knocked down a triple to start a 14-3 streak that was capped by his layup with 3 seconds left before halftime. Despite shooting just 40 percent, the Rockets led 46-42 at the break. Utah made less than 32 percent of its field goal attempts in the game's first 24 minutes. 

The second half started how the first half ended with the Rockets making a push. Ricky Rubio connected from 16-feet to begin the third quarter, but Gordon's layup started a 10-0 Rockets run that was capped by a P.J. Tucker corner three. The Jazz battled back, getting within four before Nene's tip in ended the third quarter with the Rockets up six. It took more than three minutes before Houston scored in the fourth quarter, and in the meantime, the Jazz regained the lead on Georges Niang's alleyoop rom Joe Ingles. The Rockets scored the next four points and never trailed again.

Harden hit a floater with 3:59 left to play, which put the Rockets up six, but Utah scored five in a row to get within one. They had the lead down to a single point three times, but could never get over the hump, and with 1:15 to go Rubio had a wide open look from in front of his team's bench, but he airballed it.

Utah shot just 37 percent from the field, and less than 24 percent from behind the three-point line, and no one struggled more than Donovan Mitchell who shot just 4-of-22 and missed all nine of his attempts from long range.

Royce O'Neale led the Jazz with 18 points off the bench.

With the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs over, the Rockets await the winner of the Warriors/Clippers series in the Western Confernece Semifinals. Game one would be Sunday afternoon at Oracle Arena if the Warriors win game six in Los Angeles Friday night.