Rockets Roll, 122-90

3-pointers from Rockets game 1 versus Utah Jazz

Houston Rockets/Facebook

The fourth seeded Houston Rockets began their 2019 postseason campaign Sunday night against the fifth seeded Utah Jazz just slightly before the entire planet had wrapped up watching the Game of Thrones season premiere. Houston dominated early and often throughout the contest, with the only real threat coming as Utah had driven the lead down to 8 points in the second. The Rockets would regroup however and cruise to a 122-90 blowout. Houston leads the best of seven series, 1-0

Not tired yet

James Harden has been the subject of ridicule in the past few seasons for fading in the playoffs due to his regular season usage. That narrative held little weight Sunday night as Harden erupted for 29 points 10 assists and 8 rebounds. Harden was able to get any shot he wanted, which then forced Jazz players to leave their assignments to try and help out. When that happened, Harden would kick the ball out to the resulting open teammate for a wide open look.

Help from all over

Throughout the majority of the 2019 campaign, Harden has been the lone scoring threat which has lead to some lopsided box scores in terms of point distribution. Sunday night was a trend in a different direction, as seven Rockets posted double digit scoring performances. Eric Gordon was second behind Harden with 17, followed by Clint Capela with 16, Chris Paul with 14, and PJ Tucker, Kenneth Faried, and Danuel House Jr. each with 11.

Ice Cold

While the Rockets fired fired off a cool 15-41 from beyond the arc, The Utah Jazz simply couldn't buy a bucket out there Sunday night. Though a top ten team in three-point shooting percentage throughout the regular season, Utah was anything but in game one as the went 7-27 from three. Having an off night from deep is something Houston fans can relate to as being a momentum killer, and when facing a Rockets team that is knocking their shots down with the volume they maintain it becomes very hard to keep up.

Rockets Player of the Game

James Harden: 29 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds, 1 block

Jazz Player of the Game

Rudy Gobert: 22 points, 1 assist, 12 rebounds, 1 block

Next up

The Rockets play game two against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, 4/17 at 8:30 pm central.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome