That’s a huge part of this series. If we can contain the basketball and limit them to one shot every single time down, it makes it hard for anybody. —James Harden
SALT LAKE CITY—Through the first four games of the playoff series between the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets, including Sunday’s Game 4 at Vivint Arena, the team that won the rebounding battle has won three of the contests.
On Sunday, rebounding was certainly a big factor. Through three quarters, the Rockets had outrebounded the Jazz by nine as they built a 14-point lead entering the fourth before Utah made a late charge thanks in part to winning the boards by five in the final frame.
Despite the Jazz’s strong finish, Houston still outrebounded Utah 49-45 on the night. Of particular note, Clint Capela finished with 15, including five on the offensive glass, while Chris Paul had 12.
Rudy Gobert led the Jazz with 10.
The Rockets finished with just two more second-chance points than Utah (14-12), although most of those points from the Jazz came in the fourth quarter while Houston had just two.
Those two from the Rockets, however, were crucial. Trailing by 11 at 85-74 with 7:21 remaining, Utah scored the game’s next six points over the ensuing 100 seconds and the Vivint Arena crowd was rocking.
Capela then missed a shot near the basket, but secured his 15th and final rebound of the night and put it back into the basket to quell the Jazz’s momentum, and soon Houston was up by 12.
“They are really aware every time I go to the offensive glass,” Capela said of Utah. “I’m still able to do what I do, get rebounds and be there. I’m just going to keep doing it consistently. It’s what we need and what gets us going, extra possessions, a couple of threes. I enjoy doing it, and I’ll keep doing it.”
While some might point to a head-to-head battle between Capela and Gobert when it comes to rebounding, both the Swiss center and Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni independently said it doesn’t always come down to that with the way the Jazz rotate defensively near the rim.
“You can’t just blame one guy or anything else,” D’Antoni said, referring to Gobert. “That’s just Clint having a nose for the ball, putting energy out there and just going after it. Sometimes there’s no explaining. It’s just he went after it and got it. He’s long and quick. He’s good.”
As for Paul, who has averaged 4.5 rebounds per game over the course of his career, Sunday marked just the fourth time this season that he has reached the double-digit mark in a game.
“That’s a huge part of this series,” Paul’s backcourt mate, James Harden, said of rebounding. “If we can contain the basketball and limit them to one shot every single time down, it makes it hard for anybody.”