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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Yuli Gurriel had a monster night at the plate Friday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Although they lost the series 2-1, the Astros ended their road trip with a nice win over the Yankees to head home on a positive note. On Friday, they welcomed in the Toronto Blue Jays and former teammate George Springer, currently on the IL, to start a three-game series and long homestand. They had an excellent night at the plate, along with a strong start from Jose Urquidy, cruising past the Blue Jays to take the opener.

Final Score: Astros 10, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 17-15, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (3-2)

Losing Pitcher: Ross Stripling (0-2)

Jays strike first, then Houston responds and never looks back

It first appeared that Urquidy may be in for a long night, giving up two solo home runs early in Friday's game, one to Bo Bichette in the top of the first with one out to put Toronto up 1-0, then another to Danny Jansen in the top of the third. However, Urquidy would lock-in, and his offense would back him up strongly.

Houston ended up sending nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the second, getting two runs on a homer by Carlos Correa, then later loading the bases to set up an RBI walk by Alex Bregman. In the bottom of the fifth, with a one-run lead at 3-2, Yuli Gurriel expanded the lead to three runs on a two-run shot.

Gurriel went on to have a fantastic night, going 4-for-4 at the plate with 4 RBI. His third of those came in the bottom of the seventh, extending the lead again with an RBI single to make it 6-2. Kyle Tucker made it a five-run game that same inning with an RBI double, then more insurance came in the bottom of the eighth. They reached double-digits that inning, with Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel, his fourth of the night, all getting an RBI to make it 10-2.

Urquidy finishes seven, then Emanuel finishes it off

Those gave Urquidy plenty of support, though he would bounce back after the two early homers and have a nice night on the mound. He allowed just two other hits, working around both, en route to a seven-inning two-run performance to earn him the win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 84 P.

He likely could have gone longer, but Dusty Baker turned the ball over to Kent Emanuel to wrap things up with the significant lead. He did so, despite allowing a two-run home run to former-Astro Teoscor Hernandez in the top of the ninth to make the score 10-4. The win kept the Astros above .500 and two games back of the A's, who sit atop the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be a 6:10 PM start Saturday night. The pitching matchup will be Steven Matz (4-2, 4.78 ERA) for Toronto and the electric Cristian Javier (3-0, 1.75 ERA) for Houston.

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