Eric Gordon scored a playoff-high 25 points as the Houston Rockets turned an opening flourish into a 113-92 win over the Utah Jazz on Friday at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
The Rockets took a 2-1 series lead on the strength of a 19-2 run in the opening period, with Game 4 set for Sunday in Salt Lake City. Gordon shot 5-for-22 in Games 1 and 2 but was instrumental in the first-half blitz that put the Rockets firmly in control at the break.
Gordon scored 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting prior to the intermission as the Rockets ravaged the Jazz defense. While Houston scored 17 points off 11 Utah turnovers in the first half, the Jazz shot just 36.6 percent and struggled to generate offense from the usual suspects, with Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles shooting a combined 2-for-15 in the first half. Jae Crowder, who nailed 8 of 13 3-pointers in Houston, was 1-for-4 overall by the break as Utah trailed 70-40 at halftime.
The 30-point halftime deficit was the largest in postseason history for the Jazz.
After Ingles opened the game’s scoring with a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key, the Rockets responded with a hail of baskets, depositing transition threes in addition to an avalanche of paint points. Gordon scored on consecutive possessions to up the Houston lead to 23-8, and when Nene hit two free throws at the 3:23 mark of the first, the Rockets held their first 20-point lead at 32-12.
The Rockets posted a first-quarter, postseason-high 39 points and led by 17 entering the second. After Royce O’Neale engineered a 9-0 run that cut a 49-25 deficit to 15, the Rockets closed the half with a 21-6 blitz. Gordon hit two threes during that run, which was started by a nifty give-and-go between James Harden and Clint Capela that resulted in a rousing dunk.
Houston shot 58.7 percent in the first half and assisted on 17 of 27 field goals. The Rockets led by as many as 38 points in the second half, extending to an 88-50 lead on a Gordon 3-pointer in the third quarter.
Harden finished with 25 points and 12 assists while Capela added 11 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four blocks. Chris Paul chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Rockets.
O’Neale led Utah with 17 points. Mitchell totaled 10 on 4-of-16 shooting.
—Field Level Media