SUMMARY: Jazz played the Rockets to the wire with marvelous effort fell short at the end as James Harden put on an MVP performance to carry the Rockets to the win.
• James Harden had to do it all himself for the Rockets tonight. The Jazz had a great game plan against Harden and made shots super difficult and he was still able to score 47 points. Knowing the Jazz game plan it is incredible to watch Harden work. Every time the Jazz defensive player made a simple mistake of any kind Harden knew and took advantage immediately. It could be subtle and he jumps on it. The Jazz missed communicated on a high pick and roll between he and Chris Paul where Royce O’Neale and Ricky Rubio got tangled and he nailed the three from super deep. Both of those guys were great on him tonight. The Jazz forced him right into Gobert and then the Jazz worked really hard to bring another defender over to prevent the Capela lob and the Rockets didn’t get a lob all game.
• Harden played the entire second half. The Rockets wanted this game and they needed every ounce of Harden to get it.
• The game was a 3 point game late when Harden took 5 steps into a shot and drew a foul on Ricky Rubio that prevented the Jazz from any last chance to win. It was total garbage.
• The Jazz defense was on point. Guys were rotating perfectly. Help from the weakside was perfect on Capela. Guys were dropping into passing lanes to force turnovers. The execution of the plan was at a really high level. This team played with grit that will win a ton of games.
• Harden will frustrate the fans but if you want to look at where the game was lost is another late 1st quarter early 2nd quarter scoring drought from the Jazz. The exact same thing that cost the Jazz the game in Mexico City v. Orlando. Tonight Ricky Rubio hit a shot at 4:18 of the 1st quarter. Then the Jazz made one field goal the entire time Rubio was on the bench. The Jazz went 1 for 15 with 3 turnovers until Rubio made a shot at 7:15 mark of the 2nd quarter.
• Over the last two games when Ricky Rubio has been off the floor the Jazz shot 13 of 43 and 4 of 16 from three. They were outscored by 12 points in 29 minutes. They had an offensive rating of 69.7. This is costing the Jazz games. There are a ton of other things you can look at but this is what cost the Jazz the last two games.
• This is not the same second unit as last year. The Jazz 2nd unit last year for much of the year was Donovan Mitchell and the point and Jonas Jerebko playing Thabo Sefolosha minutes. In the last three games Thabo has played 37 minutes without scoring. Thabo is not going to be a big scorer, he does a ton of other things when he is on the floor. However, when that unit is not scoring that is jumps out a little bit.
• The Jazz shot 15 of 31 at the rim tonight. This is coming off a 12 of 31 night at the rim. The Jazz do such a great job getting open looks they have to make these shots at the rim.
• The Jazz got 18 corner 3 attempts tonight which is an amazing number. They made 6.
• Maybe equally incredible is the Jazz forced the Rockets into 24 mid range 2s and they went just 4 of 24 on those shots. This is Houston taking shots where they are uncomfortable. This is exactly what the Jazz were hoping to do.
• Jazz defensive rating was an amazing 97.6 against the #1 offensive team in the NBA over the last 20 games.
• Joe Ingles was in single digits for the 4th time in 5 games.
• Jae Crowder had 10 rebounds.
• The Jazz had a great plan. They executed it really well and collectively on the defensive end. A superstar player made too many plays and for the Jazz to be able to overcome an offensive drought.
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