Houston Rockets: Rebounds and Defense were the ingredients to a blowout over Utah
Everything panned out for the Houston Rockets on Wednesday as they not only blew out the Utah Jazz, but had their cards fall the right way all night as they clinched the Southwest Division and the #2-seed in the West playoffs. The Jazz didn’t have too much of a reason to play tonight while Houston was set on finishing the season strong.
Rockets took care of the Charlotte Hornets on Monday 100-90 to keep them in contention for the number 2-seed, after they beat New Orleans on Sunday. Those games put them on a 2 game-streak heading into Wednesday. Utah also had a 2-game winning streak heading into the match-up after they defeated two playoff teams in Portland and Dallas in the last 5 days.
Apr 15, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Jason Terry (31) shoots the ball during the third quarter against the Utah Jazz at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Rockets and Coach Kevin McHale started the projected lineup for the playoffs with: Jason Terry, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones and Dwight Howard. The Rockets had a large lead halfway into the game and decided to get everyone playing time heading into the postseason.
The Utah Jazz and Coach Quin Snyder started his young group of Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. Ingles didn’t have a very good game, however three players came off the bench to keep the Jazz within 20-25 points down the stretch. Although the Jazz were missing Trevor Booker, the effort just wasn’t there for a team that was already eliminated.
Last time the Rockets played against the Utah Jazz, we were in Utah, without Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas was trying his hardest to guard Gobert and Coach McHale was disappointed after the game to say the least. This time around TJ and Howard were back on the court starting, Motiejunas unfortunately is out for the year, but the team rolled over Utah by 26. Oh… and Harden had a triple-double.
In this game rebounds were a little more even with the Rockets snagging 49 and the Jazz grabbing 44. In the last contest between the two the Rockets were out-rebound by over 20 boards in a 91-109 loss in Salt Lake City. Obviously having Howard and Jones was a huge part of that success, but just as much of a part was stopping Rudy Gobert.
The young center torched the Rockets for 19 points, 22 rebounds and 4 blocks in the last go-around. Howard and the big men were able to out muscle and use their athleticism to slow down the French prodigy. Tonight Gobert only notched 8 points and 8 rebounds in 24 minutes on the court.
Stats for Wednesday’s Jazz @ Rockets
44 rebounds – 23 assists – 12 steals – 6 blocks – 14 TO
49 rebounds – 28 assists – 9 steals – 13 blocks – 18 TO
Tonight’s win pushed the Rockets’ season record to 56-26, which is the third best record in franchise history.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) April 16, 2015
To Be Or Not To Be MVP?
On a night where he was not only fighting for playoff seeding and the scoring title against Russell Westbrook, James Harden was still dueling with Steph Curry for Most Valuable Player in the league. Unlike former-teammate Westbrook, Harden decided not to go for 100 points to claim the scoring title but to up his chance at MVP by throwing together a triple-double in 27 minutes.
Apr 15, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) blocks a shot attempt by Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke (3) during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Beard shot 100% from the free throw on his 8 attempts, giving him 16 points total. He also snatched 11 boards and finished off a slew of assists by tossing his 10th right before the third ended. That was the end of his night, regular season and MVP-campaign.
The Entire Bench
Besides for Jason Terry nailing a few three-pointers, Ariza playing his usual game and double-digit scoring nights from our starting big men, the Rockets entire bench played and showed signs of life towards the end of the 4th.
Apr 15, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) dunks the ball during the third quarter against the Utah Jazz at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The frequent-subs of Corey Brewer and Josh Smith played their part with solid nights; however other bench players such as Clint Capela scored 8 points with 6 boards and Pablo Prigioni had 8 points with 5 boards. Nick Johnson and K.J. McDaniels wont show up in the stat sheet but both had some plays that make Rockets fans look forward to their future with the team.
Rockets: James Harden – 16pts, 11reb, 10ast
Jazz: Bryce Cotton – 14pts, 3reb, 3ast
The Rockets got exactly what they wanted on Wednesday night, a win against the Jazz and a loss for the Spurs. If San Antonio beat New Orleans (knocking them out of the playoff race) then SA would claim the division and 2nd-seed leaving Houston towards the back of the pack still. Thankfully, Anthony Davis and the Pelicans brought their A+ game against the Spurs and beat them in New Orleans to grab the 8-seed and help the Rockets out a bit.
The Rockets won the hardest division in basketball, in which all 5 teams made the playoffs (Rockets, Grizzlies, Spurs, Mavericks and Pelicans). This is the first time since the 1993-1994 season, when they won the title, that the Rockets are able to call themselves Division Champions.
They capped off another great season against the Jazz on Wednesday night. They overcame adversity with injuries and player’s being brought in and shipped out this season, but Coach McHale kept them consistent as they never had more than a 2-game losing streak the entire season.
Apr 15, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) controls the ball during the third quarter against the Utah Jazz at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Watch out for the #2 Houston Rockets as they take on the #7 Dallas Mavericks in the first-round of the playoffs, Saturday at 8:30pm/CT! The Jet out for revenge, Harden to prove an MVP-sized point, Ariza to show Chandler Parsons who’s boss, everything will be played out in the next few weeks!
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