James Harden and Clint Capela posted double-doubles, and the Houston Rockets rolled to a 122-90 victory in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series with the visiting Utah Jazz on Sunday.
Harden paired 29 points with 10 assists and finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double to fuel the Rockets to a 1-0 series lead. Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday, also at Toyota Center.
Capela added 16 points and 12 rebounds while grappling with Jazz center Rudy Gobert (22 points, 12 rebounds). Houston made headway by holding its own on the glass and defending with vigor, limiting Utah guard Donovan Mitchell to 19 points on 7-of-18 shooting and the Jazz to 39.0 percent shooting. Utah finished just 7-for-27 on 3-pointers and committed 19 turnovers.
The Rockets seized control midway through the first quarter, and while Utah rallied to within five points in the third, Houston found answers in the form of Chris Paul (14 points, seven assists) and Danuel House Jr., who added 11 points off the bench. Reserve Kenneth Faried also scored 11.
Perhaps the most decisive stretch for the Rockets came with 6:50 remaining in the third quarter. Harden picked up his fourth foul on the back end of an extended run by the Jazz that resulted in Utah slicing a 15-point deficit to 66-61 on a Mitchell pull-up jumper with 7:57 left in the period.
Harden remained in the game and proved instrumental in Houston regaining control. His three-point play at the 4:54 mark of the period extended the lead to 74-61 and, when Harden drilled a stepback 3-pointer with 3:09 left in the third, the Rockets reclaimed their 15-point lead.
When Paul replaced Harden at the 1:55 mark, the Rockets led by 12 and maintained control down the stretch. With 9:08 remaining, Paul assisted on a House trey, and Houston led 95-75.
Ricky Rubio, who missed the West semifinal series between these teams last season due to injury, added 15 points and six assists for the Jazz. Eric Gordon chipped in 17 points for Houston, which shot 50.5 percent and posted a 42-41 advantage on the glass.
—Field Level Media