Fred Faour: 5 observations from Game 1 of the Rockets-Jazz playoff series

Chris Paul and the Rockets had plenty to celebrate. Tim Warner/Getty Images

Five observations from the Rockets' 110-96 Game 1 win over the Utah Jazz in the second round of the NBA playoffs:

1) No slow start: The Rockets came out hot, and opened up a 34-21 first quarter lead and expanded it to 64-39 at the half. The Jazz figured to struggle early, coming off a tough turnaround from Friday night's series-clinching win over the Thunder and also adjusting to not having Ricky Rubio. The Rockets took advantage and gained control of the game early.

2) Capela continues to shine: Clint Capela was better than Karl-Anthony Towns in their matchup in the opening series. For one game, he outplayed Utah's Rudy Gobert as well. Capela was active with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Gobert did not get his first basket until the fourth quarter and had 11 points, mostly in garbage time, and 9 rebounds.

3) If there is a cause for concern...The Jazz picked up the defense in the third quarter and cut into the Rockets lead. Houston was coasting, but the Jazz turned it into the kind of game they want to play. They outscored the Rockets 29-22 in the third quarter and 28-24 in the fourth. They were never really a threat, but that is the kind of play they will seek moving forward, and the Rockets will need to adjust.

4) Depth perception: The Rockets bench was outplayed by the Jazz bench. It did not matter, because the Rockets got a big game out of James Harden (41 points), but Jae Crowder was strong for Utah with 21 points. Utah's bench outscored Houston's 40-13, but the good news was the return of Luc Mbah a Moute, who played 21 minutes for Houston. He will be a key piece moving forward.

3-mendous: The Rockets shot over 50 percent on 3-pointers, hitting 53.1 percent on 17 of 32 shooting. Harden led the way with 7 of 12.

Overall, a solid opening game, but expect a better effort from Utah in Game 2 with more rest.

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The Houston Astros managed to win the AL West once again, and while things got a little nerve wracking toward the end of the season, when it mattered most, the 'Stros took care of business.

It certainly didn't hurt to get a little help from the Mariners, beating the Rangers 1-0 on Sunday, paving the way for the Astros to secure the division. Rangers fans and members of their broadcast team were none too pleased with the Diamondbacks resting some of their starters on Sunday.

But let's be real, with the division on the line, the Rangers couldn't even manage to score a single run on Sunday against Seattle. That's why they're playing in the Wild Card series, not because of how Arizona approached Sunday's game.

So what did we learn during these must-win games over the last week? A lot was made of GM Dana Brown's comments on the team's flagship station. Brown was hoping manager Dusty Baker would put the best offensive lineup on the field. Yainer Diaz did not start a single game of the Diamondbacks series. But Chas McCormick played every game of the Mariners and Diamondbacks series, except for the finale against Seattle, after being hit in the back with a fastball the night before.

Michael Brantley played in two of three against Arizona, so he appears to be an option Dusty will turn to moving forward. And with the Astros only scoring 1 and 2 runs in two of the three wins against the D-Backs, the Astros need every bit of offense they can get.

Plus, we discuss how getting extra rest for Michael Brantley, Jose Abreu, and the bullpen could pay huge dividends for the club. And don't look now, but Jose Abreu is getting hot at just the right time!

Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion.

And be sure to watch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportMapHouston's YouTube channel.

Listen to ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM for Houston's best sports talk.

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