SALT LAKE CITY — Nine hours before the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets squared off in Game 3 of their playoff series at Vivint Arena Friday night, a video was posted on the Rockets’ Twitter account of center Clint Capela eating at a steakhouse in Portland.
As the flames of a rivalry between Capela and Jazz center Rudy Gobert, both of whom hail from Western Europe, were fanned earlier this week when a Houston writer went on Salt Lake radio and said, “I’m taking Clint Capela over Rudy Gobert right now. There’s no way around it.”
The centers switched off having strong performances during the first two games of the series, with Capela winning the matchup in Game 1 and Gobert in Game 2.
On Friday night, as Houston dominated Utah in a 113-92 victory with Rockets legend Hakeem Olajuwon in attendance, it was Capela who feasted on Gobert as the Rockets were building their insurmountable lead.
The Jazz big man actually finished with 12 points to Capela’s 11 and nine rebounds to Capela’s eight, but the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Capela had four blocks, four assists and two steals, while Gobert had just two blocks, two assists and no steals.
Beyond the final stats, however, Capela had a greater impact on the game as the Rockets opened a 17-point lead at the end of the first quarter and a 30-point edge at halftime. He set an important tone early, scoring Houston’s first two points of the night, and had a steal and an assist in the game’s first four minutes.
By the time he checked out with 3:44 remaining in the first quarter in favor of Luc Mbah a Moute, Capela had four points, two steals, two assists and a rebound as the Rockets owned a 30-12 lead.
Gobert, on the other hand, had registered just two points and a rebound during that span.
In the second quarter as Houston put the game away for good, Capela was absolutely dominant, posting four points, four rebounds, three blocks and an assist. He also affected some more Jazz shots that didn’t get registered as blocks.
Gobert had four points and three rebounds during the second frame.
Although the video of Capela at the steakhouse did not relate directly to Game 3, some of his words fit the evening well.
“I enjoy the grind,” he said. “I have the opportunity to go against the best players in the world every single night. Every city that we go (to) sends the message that we are here ... we have it all. We have it all.”
Thanks in good part to Capela’s performance, the Rockets certainly did Friday night.