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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Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

UPDATE: With the Angels loss on Friday night, the Astros have secured their playoff berth. They will be part of the MLB postseason for their fourth-straight season.

After the big offensive showing to take the opener on Thursday, the Astros entered Friday's game at Globe Life Field against the Rangers just one win or Angels loss away from securing their spot in the playoffs. Here is how the game unfolded:

Final Score (10 innings): Rangers 5, Astros 4.

Record: 29-29, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Brett Martin (1-1, 1.98 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Enoli Paredes (3-3, 3.05 ERA).

Urquidy goes seven while allowing two

The Rangers would strike first in Friday's game, getting a two-out solo home run against Jose Urquidy in the bottom of the second to grab the early 1-0 lead. Urquidy did relatively well on the night, though he would allow another solo homer in the bottom of the fifth. Those were the only two runs he allowed, working in and out of some trouble throughout the game on his way to finishing seven innings. His final line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2 HR, 98 P.

Houston grabs their first lead late

Unlike their hot night at the plate the night prior, it took the Astros until the fifth inning to get on the board. It came after Carlos Correa hit a leadoff single, then came all the way around to score on an RBI-triple by George Springer, making it a 1-1 tie at the time.

After the Rangers went back in front 2-1 in the bottom of the inning on their second solo homer of the night, Alex Bregman would tie it up again with a solo home run of his own, making it 2-2. Houston would get their first lead of the night in the top of the eighth, with Altuve working a leadoff walk before scoring later in the inning on an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel.

Rangers get the walk-off to keep Houston waiting for playoff bid

After Urquidy, Blake Taylor would take over on the mound in the bottom of the eighth, retiring the Rangers in order for a scoreless inning to hold the one-run lead. Still 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Houston turned to their closer, Ryan Pressly. After two quick outs, he would allow a game-tying solo home run, making it 3-3 to postpone Houston's celebration at least another inning as the game headed to extras.

In the top of the tenth, Jose Altuve was placed on second as the free runner. He advanced to third on a groundout to start the inning, then scored on a sac fly by Alex Bregman, making it a 4-3 lead for Houston. Enoli Paredes would load the bases before Texas would tie the game on a sac fly in the bottom of the inning, keeping runners on second and third. Houston made the change to Brooks Raley to try and extend the game another inning, but instead, the Rangers would get the walk-off win, spoiling Houston's chance to clinch their playoff spot themselves with a win.

Up Next: The third game of this four-game set will get underway at 6:05 PM Central on Saturday. On the mound for Texas will be Kyle Gibson (2-6, 5.87 ERA), and, as of now, the Astros still have Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3, 4.24 ERA) listed as their starter.

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