Rockets take 2-0 lead, bury Jazz 118-98

3-pointers from Rockets Game 2 versus Utah

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Houston squared off against the Utah Jazz Wednesday Night for game two of their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup. The Rockets started strong and, despite a lull in the third quarter, capably blew out the Jazz for the second straight game to take a 2-0 series lead.

Hot Start

Have you ever put too much lighter fluid on a BBQ pit and stood too close to light it? The result is essentially what the Utah Jazz experienced shortly after tip-off. Houston fired 46% (6-13) from three point range in the first quarter, while Utah continued their abysmal long range performance from game one with an 8% (1-13) output. Stifling defense in addition to James Harden's 17 points contributed to the Rockets jumping out to a 39-19 lead after the first quarter.

Doing it all

As one can safely assume, Harden wasn't finished scoring after the first. Utah continued to push the left-handed Harden to the right in order to slow him down, a tactic that proved wildly unsuccessful. Harden keyed off of Jazz defenders shading to the left and instead of his typical step back three-pointer, he simply stepped to the right. He used his dribble toward the basket to once again find open teammates, and attacked the boards with intensity. Harden finished polishing off the Jazz with 32 points, 10 assists, and 13 rebounds, good for his third career playoff triple-double and the eighth in Rockets playoff history.

Outmatched from three

If the Jazz fail to advance the narrative will center around their inability to convert from beyond the arc enough to keep up with the Rockets. Houston finished an impressive 40% (17-42) on the night while the Jazz conversely could only manage 21% (8-38). It's impossible to keep up with the Rockets when shooting that inefficiently, and if it continues Saturday night, the Jazz will almost certainly find themselves in a 3-0 hole.

Rockets player of the game

James Harden: 32 points, 10 assists, 13 rebounds

Jazz player of the game

Ricky Rubio: 17 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals

Next up

The Rockets travel to Salt Lake City for game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Saturday at 9:30 pm, central.

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Houston has lost back-to-back games

Astros drop series to Giants with finale loss

Houston's offense came up short again in San Francisco on Sunday. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games against the Giants, the Astros tried to grab the finale to win his high-difficulty series. They came up short, though, with San Francisco once again one-upping them on offense against Luis Garcia, giving Houston back-to-back losses.

Final Score: Giants 5, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 64-42, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Logan Webb (5-3)

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia (7-6)

Gurriel strikes first, but Giants get the better of Garcia

The Astros were able to grab an early lead against Logan Webb in the top of the first, getting a runner on base to set up Yuli Gurriel for a two-run homer to start the scoring. Luis Garcia, who erased a walk in the first and a double in the second to maintain the 2-0 advantage, ran into trouble in the third. After two quick outs, Kris Bryant, recently acquired by the Giants at the trade deadline, changed the momentum with a solo homer in the first game for his new team.

They scored two more runs during the two-out rally on three hits and a walk, grabbing a 3-2 lead before Garcia would get the final out. He managed a scoreless fourth, but San Francisco got to him again in the fifth, chasing him out of the game with a two-out, two-run homer to extend their lead to 5-2. His final line in the loss: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 89 P.

Giants take series as Astros drop the finale

First out of Houston's bullpen was Rafael Montero, making his debut for his new team. He did well, getting the third out of the fifth then tossing a scoreless sixth. Phil Maton was next, coming in for the bottom of the seventh and erasing a single to keep it a three-run game. After wasting a chance with two runners on in the seventh, the Astros started a new rally in the top of the eighth, getting back-to-back hits to lead it off with runners on first and third with no outs.

They would get just one run from it, though, making it 5-3, which would go final after a scoreless bottom of the eighth by Ryne Stanek and a 1-2-3 inning at the plate by Houston in the top of the ninth. That gave the Giants the series and left the Astros reeling from back-to-back losses as they turn the page to another high-caliber opponent to finish this road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel to the last leg of this road trip, Los Angeles, before a day off on Monday. Tuesday, they'll pick up a quick two-game series with the Dodgers, with Lance McCullers Jr. (8-2, 3.23 ERA) for the Astros going up against Walker Buehler (11-1, 2.19 ERA) for LA in the opener at 9:10 PM Central.

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