SALT LAKE CITY — Starting strong in the first half is becoming a signature for Houston.
For the second time in their playoff series with Utah Clint Boling Jersey , the Rockets raced to a lopsided win after dismantling the Jazz on both ends of the court before halftime. Houston surged ahead of Utah in a 113-92 victory in Game 3 on Friday by hitting a flurry of shots and then taking the Jazz completely out of their offense.
The Rockets shot 58.7 percent from the field before halftime and did not commit a turnover until late in the second quarter. They led by as many as 30 points in the first half.
James Harden and Eric Gordon led the charge. Each player scored 25 points and Harden dished out 12 assists.
It helped Houston take a 2-1 series lead going into Game 4 on Sunday.
“They were aggressive the entire night,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said. “We didn’t respond in any way, so we have to take this one on the chin and respond in Game 4.”
Forcing turnovers became Houston’s calling card from the opening tip. The Rockets pressured Utah into making bad passes or settling for tough, contested shots. The Jazz committed 11 turnovers in the first half, leading to 17 points for Houston.
Their goal was to keep Utah from settling into its offense the way the Jazz did in Game 2. Houston succeeded in dominating the first half in much the same fashion that the Rockets did in the first game of the series.
“I thought our defense was superb Taco Charlton Jersey ,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We were hitting shots all over the place, kept the crowd out of it. We kept them on their heels. You could see the guys feeding off good defense and good defense. When you do that and your energy is right, the shots start to go down.”
Houston raised its level on defense. Utah finished with 16 turnovers and shot less than 40 percent from the field until the fourth quarter. When the Jazz weren’t hitting shots, they couldn’t balance things out by getting stops on the other end.
Most possessions ended up wasted and the gulf between the two teams quickly grew into a canyon.
“They made it harder and we weren’t able to get the ball where we wanted to go on the floor,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We weren’t able to get the ball vertically in order to get shots for other guys. If we get into a situation where we’re just having to create off the dribble by ourselves Maliek Collins Jersey , that’s not what we’re best at.”
To improve its fortunes in Game 4, Utah will have to get better performances from Mitchell and Joe Ingles. The duo combined to shoot 6-of-26 from the floor two nights after Ingles posted a career-high 27 points and Mitchell added 17 points while dishing out a career-high 11 assists.
Mitchell, in particular, has been a focal point of Houston’s defense in the series and it has showed. He hasn’t been able to find much of a shooting rhythm while playing at point guard. The rookie is averaging only 16.0 points while shooting 32.2 percent from the field over the first three games of the series.
“We try to defend and try to make him see a crowd and try to make it tough on him, just like they try to do to us when they press up on us Sean Lee Jersey ,” Rockets guard Chris Paul said. “We just tried to make it tough on him.”
Their contributions are even more vital for the Jazz with Ricky Rubio trying to bounce back from a hamstring injury and Derrick Favors limited by a sprained ankle. Both are listed as questionable for Game 4.
The Jets traded quarterback Christian Hackenberg to the Raiders on Tuesday a short time after the 2016 second-round pick said that he felt frustrated by “not really getting any information from聽anybody on how to fix” the problems with his game that led him to be anchored to the bench the last two seasons.
Jets coach Todd Bowles said later that those comments didn’t contribute to the decision to make the trade because players are allowed to be critical and because he feels they did work to correct flaws in Hackenberg’s game. Bowles said he can’t answer fully why things never worked out, but that he doesn’t feel regret about the decision to draft Hackenberg.
“Anytime a pick doesn鈥檛 work out I guess you can look at it as a waste,” Bowles said in comments distributed by the team. “When a pick does work out, it is not a waste. You learn lessons from everything you do in life. It isn鈥檛 just football and draft picks. If anyone has a four-leaf clover up their butt and it is going to work out every time please let me know that person because hey, it didn鈥檛 work out here.”
With Sam Darnold joining the team as a first-round pick this year Anthony Zettel Jersey , there will be further scrutiny of the Jets’ ability to develop a quarterback. Bowles said he doesn’t think the Hackenberg experience will play into what happens with Darnold because the two players “are completely different.”
The coach was also asked if Teddy Bridgewater‘s work influenced the decision to make a trade. Bowles said he liked what he saw during Tuesday’s OTA, although he cautioned it was just one practice for a player who will have to show his knee can hold up over the long term.
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