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Rockets showcase what they should: Lockdown D



HOUSTON – The desperate 36-footer by Donovan Mitchell sailed over the backboard in a miserable moment that epitomized the Utah Jazz's offensive woes in their 122-90 Game 1 loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

Mitchell had no The choice, however, is to give up a prayer after receiving a pass so far from the basket just before the expiration of the shot clock, which was shot with the errant shot. The Rockets' aggressive defense had snuffed out every action the Jazz attempted to possession. "Their physicality defensively disrupted us," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.

"Their physicality defensively disrupted us," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "

  • James Harden had 29 points and 1

    0 assists to help the Houston Rockets rout the Utah Jazz 122-90.

The Rockets held the Jazz to 39 percent shooting from the floor (7-of-27 from 3-point range) and forced 18 turnovers in the rout. It was the kind of dominant defensive performance that gives Rockets, a historically elite offensive team, the confidence that they are legitimate title contenders.

"It does not surprise me that we can defend it," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said . "At all."

Houston, one of the NBA's worst defensive teams during the first half of the season, has excelled in that end since the All-Star break. Only Utah ranked above Houston in defensive efficiency since the All-Star break, as the Rockets allowed only 105.3 points per possession in that span, a major factor in their league-best 20-5 finish.

"That's what we have to do, "said Rockets superstar James Harden, who had game highs of 29 points and 10 assists. "That's how we have to play defensively. We have to be aggressive. We have to break their routes and their plays and things they like to do and make sure they are not comfortable. If we do not do that, we do not

Reserve guard Austin Rivers raised some eyebrows after March 28 rout of the Denver Nuggets when he announced that the Rockets would win a championship. if they continued to play elite defense. That's a belief held throughout the Houston locker room.

"That's something we always emphasize," said forward PJ Tucker, the Rockets' best defender. "When we're aggressive as a team, our defense goes to another level. We're physical on box-offs, all the switches, and we're aggressive and getting up into people, making them drive. When you "

The Jazz repeatedly made poor decisions under duress or had to settle for low-percentage shots in Game 1. With Eric Gordon as his primary defender, Utah's go-to guy Donovan Mitchell had a particularly tough night finish with 19 points on 7-of-18 shooting without assists and five turnovers.

"It's one game, and you have to learn from it, but I can "Do not have any assists and five turnovers," Mitchell said. "I do not care how many minutes you play or whatever. If you get five turnovers, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and figure out how to adjust."


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