Rockets eliminate Jazz, 100-93

3-pointers from Rockets game 5 versus Utah Jazz

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The Rockets hosted the Utah Jazz in game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals Wednesday night at the Toyota Center in downtown Houston. Looking to stave off elimination, Utah came strong out of the gate with their patented brand of tough defense. The game would come down to the wire late, but it was a few clutch defensive plays from Chris Paul and James Harden late in the fourth quarter that would ultimately eliminate the Jazz en route to a Western Conference Semifinals berth.

Doing what the Jazz do best

The Jazz made a name for themselves as one of the premiere defensive teams in league throughout the 2019 season. In game four they proved just that, and harassed the Rockets all the way to a 107-91 victory. Determined to avoid a repeat, the Rockets took a page out of their opponent's playbook and clamped down on the defensive end. Houston stifled the Jazz at the arc, as Utah went 9-38 from 3-point range. Both teams remained equal from the turnover perspective, but it was late in the game when the Rockets made key steals to ice the game and finish 8 to 12 in the category overall--when it mattered.

Healthy enough down low

Game four saw one of the worst statistical outputs of Clint Capela's 2019 campaign. It was only after Capela's 4 point, 7 rebound performance that we learned that the Rockets starting center was simultaneously battling two separate upper respiratory infections. Having been given time to rest, Capela emerged in game five as a true difference maker. The big man finished Wednesday night with a more noticeable stat line of 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

Big names, big games

Both Chris Paul and James Harden had terrific games in game four, yet it wasn't enough to carry a team that provided practically any support. Wednesday night was a different story, and with a healthy Capela and a bench able to contribute, Harden and Paul each exploded to put the Jazz away for good. Harden and Paul combined for 41 points, 11 assists, 14 rebounds, 6 steals, and 4 blocks. You can't ask too much more from your stars.

Rockets player of the game

James Harden: 26 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 blocks

Jazz player of the game

Ricky Rubio: 17 points, 11 assists, 2 rebounds, 3 steals

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5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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