HOUSTON – Just 36 hours ago, Donovan Mitchell sat on the podium with three Utah Jazz teammates after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder with a heavy series win and was asked how to prepare for the next one.
Joe Ingles They said they would enjoy their "tonight's" victory, but Mitchell came in to correct him, saying it was after midnight – it was already Saturday. And with a Sunday afternoon on Sunday, about 1500 miles away in Houston, against a well-rested and ready-to-go Rockets team, jazz had immediate problems.
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Houston scored 36 points in the first quarter – James Harden and Chris Paul joined to bring Utah's 21 together on their own – leading the way to a 110-96 Rockets win that was not even close.
Harden finished with 41 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in a clinical performance, and the Rockets built a 25-point half-time lead in a crushingly casual manner, hitting 10 of 16 out of 3 as one of the league's highest defenses skimmed the first 24 minutes
Maybe there was a fatigue element for Utah; or maybe the Jazz were on the road this season to play a game against the best NBA team.
"They had some dead legs," said Rocket's coach Mike D & # 39; Antoni, "and we came out and did what we wanted to do."
It was reckless, in some ways almost mean, like the Rockets dealt with jazz. In the third quarter, Utah finally built up some momentum, halted and scored in the painting to reduce the deficit to a relatively manageable 15 and move to fourth. Then Paul rolled up the yard and punched a 3 on the buzzer to push him to 18.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert dominated the series with his deep color protection against the thunder and frustrated Russell Westbrook, hesitating to see whether he attacked all the way to the edge or lifted off his elbows to draw a knight.
But for Harden, at least in game 1, it was a completely different story. The ground, which is spread with elite shooters, helps, but Harden has a weapon that Westbrook could not use – the floater. Englisch: www.goredsea.com/en_magazine-archiv…december2005. Harden did not take many in the game, but the threat alone, and with Clint Capela lurking on the baseline, Gobert often flat-footed and conflict-laden, grieving over a lane-oop or Harden charging on him.
"It's just a completely different team," said Gobert. "They both have superstars with different strengths, but we need to adapt, we have to watch the band, communicate and get better, it's different for me, it's a team with a lot of shooters." They may not be so explosive on the edge, but they have Capela on the rollers and James Harden, who is very smart, is very good at finding him. We just have to get better and adapt.
James Harden drives to Clint Capela, who concludes with a dunk over Rudy Gobert.
Combine that with Harden's Signature Step-Back 3, and Gobert was not in the Were able to defend the way he did Westbrook, The Jazz could live with Westbrook raising for an off-the-dribble-3, give Harden one and you're asking for trouble and possibly a quick series.
"These are different players "Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of the adjustment between Westbrook and Harden." This is not only between these two players, but also between these two teams. This is part of the game in a new series, and we have to make [the adjustment]. Sometimes players just feel something. There's no way you can play against it You can talk about it, you can watch the video, you can refer to past games, you can talk about their series against Minnesota, but until you get out of it, it will be harder to make the adjustments that you have to do. "
The Jazz threw Harden a series of different looks, attempting speed in Mitchell, a position match in Royce O'Neale and greatness with Jae Crowder, all of them trying to lead Harden to Gobert, which is a typical jazz Strategy, but with all the distances and armaments on the perimeter, made it easy prey.
"Offensively, this team, we are different," Harden said. "We have seen so many different defenses all year round that it has prepared us for this moment. Whether it's the Gobert on the rim or the gear shift or whatever, we've seen it all year round. We watch film and find out how we can create 3s and create opportunities for each other. We go out and play our ass off. Quite easy.
James Harden takes Donovan Mitchell one-to-one and beats a contested 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.
Mitchell had a few moments – like an absolutely lousy crossover from Harden for a pull-up 3 – but when the Rockets built the jazz in the first half to their 25-point lead, Mitchell went down with only nine points to 10 shots in the break.It's a lot to ask if a rookie is out a slugfest series comes to play on the road against the NBA's best team, but Mitchell clearly did not have the kind of assertiveness that made him so impressive in round 1.
Donovan Mitchell attacks the rim and finishes in the first quarter with a hard left-hand layup
"He has to remain aggressive," Snyder said earlier about Mitchell Game 1. "I've been trying to define aggressiveness for him to be aggressive, drives, shoots u I really do not hang up. "Do I play the 1 or the 2? Just be who you are.
Jazz needs to reform and there are many adjustments that need to be made to make Gobert an influencer against the thunder and make Mitchell maintain its urgency, with two days between games giving them time to recover and rework their thoughts.
"We did not have much time to prepare," Mitchell said, "We wanted to make it, and the first half was like our first half in preparation, and we started in the second half To move the ball and make the look easier. "
Jazz came up with the idea of completing at least one of two games in Houston, and deep down they might have known that Game 1 would be a punt Playing an impressive battle for Houston's fourth-quarter leadership but against the Rockets is an exhausting test of physical and mental stamina and discipline.  Jazz was not ready for Game 1. But they should not feel too bad; The Rockets do that to many teams.