Tue, Apr 16, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Harden scores 29 as Rockets rout Jazz


Jae Crowder of the Utah Jazz, left, vies for the ball with James Harden of the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of their NBA playoff in Houston, Texas, on Sunday.

Photo: Troy Taormina-USA Today

The Utah Jazz on Sunday tried to force the left-handed James Harden to his right to make things more difficult for him in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets.

Did not matter much to Harden and the Rockets though. He still led the team in scoring and helped facilitate solid offensive nights from everyone else in the starting lineup in a lopsided win.

Harden had 29 points and 10 assists to help the Rockets rout the Jazz 122-90 in the opener of the best-of-seven series.

Houston’s entire starting lineup had at least 10 points.

Eric Gordon had 17, Clint Capela scored 16, Chris Paul added 14 and P.J. Tucker had 11.

“They throw something at him, and they might get him a little bit and he figures it out, and they don’t get him anymore,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said about the defensive strategy on Harden. “He’s so good offensively it makes me laugh. He’s just so good I don’t know what you do ... you’re not stopping him. I don’t care what you do.”

Harden was not surprised at Utah’s defensive tactic.

“I’ve seen literally every defense you can possibly see,” he said. “So it was just a matter of adjusting and continuing to communicate with the guys of what spots they needed to be in.”

The Rockets had a double-digit lead for most of the game, but the Jazz got within five points midway through the third quarter, before Houston used a big run to pull away and sail to the victory.

“The third quarter we got some stops and we didn’t get shots on the other end, and that’s tough to overcome,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.

It is the second consecutive year the teams have met in the post-season after the Rockets eliminated Utah in five games in the second round last season.

Game 2 is in Houston, Texas, tomorrow.

Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Jazz after not scoring more than 15 points in a game in the playoff series against the Rockets last season.

Donovan Mitchell had 19 points, but did not have an assist as the Jazz went long stretches without scoring.

Elsewhere, the Milwaukee Bucks routed the Detroit Pistons 121-86, the Trail Blazers edged the Thunder 104-99 and the Celtics 84 defeated the Pacers 84-74.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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