5 observations from the Rockets' Game 3 slaughter of the Utah Jazz
Remember all that panic when the Rockets lost Game 2 at home to Utah? That it happened on the same night the Astros lost to the Yankees just put the city in a tizzy. Well, the Astros beat the Diamondbacks 8-0 Friday night, and the Rockets destroyed the Jazz to take a 2-1 series lead. Five observations from the win:
Taking control early: The Rockets came out on fire, and this looked a lot like Game 1, as they rolled to a 70-40 halftime lead. They would extend that even more to 80-43 at one point. Utah's methodical, spacing offense had no chance to get them back in the game. If the Rockets are that efficient early, the Jazz simply can't compete.
Old fashioned way: The Rockets did not shoot the 3 well, which is usually a recipe for disaster, hitting just 11 of 36. The Jazz had just as many made on fewer shots. It is a little scary what this game might have looked like if they had shot closer to 40 percent.
Balanced attack: James Harden led the way with 25 points (and 12 assists), but all Rockets starters finished in double figures except P.J. Tucker, who had nine. Harden and Paul got help throughout the lineup, including a nice effort of the bench from...
Eric Gordon finally showed up: Gordon had been awful most of the playoffs, but something about being in Utah woke him up. He scored 25, including 8 of 13 shooting. The Rockets need him to be a key factor, and he finally was.
Turning the tide: Even in the Game 2 loss, the Rockets have been winning the turnover battle, and Friday was no exception. The Jazz had 17, while the Rockets only had eight. The Rockets also shot 48 percent to 41 for the Jazz, flipping that stat from Wednesday night.
All in all, it was a strong effort from the Rockets, who put it away early and coasted to the finish. It might have been the ugly Jazz jerseys that inspired them. Who knows? Another effort like that in Game 4 will make the eventual ending of this series even more inevitable.