HOUSTON — The top-seeded Houston Rockets built a huge first-half lead to cruise past the Utah Jazz in Game 1 of their NBA playoff series Sunday afternoon, 110-96.
Here’s a brief look at what happened.
Turning point: PJ Tucker hit two straight 3-pointers late in the second half that seemed to break the Utah Jazz’s spirit as Houston carried a 25-point lead into halftime.
The hero: The Rockets’ James Harden showed why he’s a leading candidate to win MVP this year, torching the Jazz for 41 points. He was deadly on step-back 3-pointers, hitting 7 of 13 from the beyond the arc.
• Rockets’ center Clint Capela dominated Rudy Gobert in the first half, scoring 10 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Gobert, however, only had three rebounds, 0 blocks and 0 shots for just 2 points. Gobert’s first shot didn’t come until 8:30 left in the fourth quarter.
• The Jazz showed some life, led by Donovan Mitchell, in the second half. They cut a 27-point lead to 11, but that was as close as they could get. Mitchell put in 10 points during that stretch on his way to a team-high 21 points
• Utah was without floor general Ricky Rubio, who was out with a hamstring injury. Jae Crowder helped to fill in the scoring gap. He also scored 21 points.
Houston leads 1-0
Game 1: Houston 110, Utah 96
Game 2: Utah at Houston, Wednesday, 6 p.m., TNT
Game 3: Houston at Utah, Friday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 4: Houston at Utah, Sunday, May 6, 6 p.m., TNT
Game 5: Utah at Houston, Tuesday, May 8, TBD, TNT*
Game 6: Houston at Utah, Thursday, May 10, TBD, ESPN*
Game 7: Utah at Houston, Monday, May 14, TBD, TNT*