Rockets eliminate Jazz, 100-93

3-pointers from Rockets game 5 versus Utah Jazz

Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

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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Another tough loss for the Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans started fast but faltered late as the New York Jets hand Houston their ninth loss of the season 21-14. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Starting safety Justin Reid was benched for the game. David Culley said after the game it was his decision as head coach and he would keep the matter internal with Reid.

2. This is the third defender benched for disciplinary reasons this season. Reid joins Zach Cunningham and Desmond King as players who missed time for discipline.

3. Justin Reid told Fox 26 he was benched because he had a disagreement with the coaching staff. He also said he was shocked the Texans benched him. You have to wonder if the “culture” the team is building is right when one of the more likable and personable players falls victim to their rules. Reid, who is a free agent this offseason, could leave the Texans.

4. Tyrod Taylor had a couple of nice plays early on for the Texans. His willingness to take some shots downfield was refreshing and led to a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

5. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan found the end zone. He has played well in recent weeks after finally getting on the field. Jordan is playing over Jordan Akins as Akins was a healthy scratch again this week.

6. Tytus Howard started at left tackle with mixed results. Howard has struggled to find his way at guard but could be a long-term option at tackle if given the chance.

7. The offensive line overall played poorly after some early success. The pass rush of the Jets got going and the run blocking was poor again. Lane Taylor played at left guard some, with Max Scharping also playing some at that spot.

8. The offense was horrendous after the two scoring drives. The Texans amassed 202 net yards with 91 yards coming on those two scoring drives. Houston gained just 49 net yards after their opening three drives.

9. After the game, I asked David Culley if he would be making a change with his play-caller. Culley stood behind offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and said he would remain the team’s play-caller.

10. Second-year defensive lineman Ross Blacklock had two horrible errors that handed the Jets a chance to turn three points into seven points. Blacklock got a personal foul on a field goal attempt giving the Jets a first down. The very next play his offsides penalty erased a sack. Each week Blacklock falls even more behind a bevy of players drafted after him who contribute positively on a regular basis.

11. The loss to another bottom-dweller has the Texans back in the second spot in the 2022 NFL Draft order. It also feels like the deflating nature of this loss erased some of the good feelings after the victory over the Titans. The Indianapolis Colts come to Houston next week to begin December’s portion of the schedule.

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