On this day in 2019, James Harden led the Houston Rockets past the Utah Jazz in five games for the second playoffs in a row.
It doesn’t get much better than sending the Utah Jazz home packing — just ask their number one fan, Vernon Maxwell. The Houston Rockets have had the honor of doing so in each of the past two playoffs, only needing five games both times.
On this day in 2019, the fourth-seeded Rockets took on the fifth-seeded Jazz in the first round after having sent them home in the second round in 2018. Utah was coming off of a 107-91 victory to stave off a series sweep but had been blown out twice at the Toyota Center already.
Game 5 in Houston was a different story, as the Jazz played the Rockets tightly throughout, leading by as many as seven points in the game. Donovan Mitchell, however, struggled to get things going all night, shooting just 4-of-22 in the game, including 0-of-9 from the 3-point line, to finish with just 12 points.
Despite their star’s struggles, the Jazz still found themselves down by just one with 1:30 left after a driving shot by Ricky Rubio. In the following Utah possession, Harden had a clutch strip of what would’ve been a certain dunk by Rudy Gobert that would’ve cut the Houston lead to one once again.
The Rockets went on to win the game 100-93 and advanced to face the Golden State Warriors in round two, where they would be eliminated in six games.
The way things were shaping up in the Western Conference, a first-round matchup with the Jazz was one of the more likely outcomes. Let’s hope the playoffs can still be salvaged — if only so we can see the Rockets send Utah packing for a third straight time.