The Houston Rockets got all that they could handle from rookie Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz. However, behind a career-defining performance by Chris Paul, the Rockets were able to outlast the Jazz 112-100 (courtesy of ESPN).
By winning the game over the Jazz, the Rockets take the series 4-1. Sitting with the best record in the NBA, the Rockets will await the winner of the Golden State Warriors versus New Orleans Pelicans’ series. It is the first time that Chris Paul has advanced to the conference finals.
There were several takeaways from the Houston Rockets Game 5 win over the Utah Jazz. A couple of those observations can lead to some lasting ramifications going forward.
Outside of Chris Paul, who scored a game-high 41 points, and P.J. Tucker, the Houston Rockets played without much energy. As the Jazz was making a run, even taking the lead at one point, Chris Paul was steady making clutch shots. Chris Paul practically put the Rockets on his back as his teammates were in a malaise. Adding to his 41 points, Chris Paul had 10 assists and seven rebounds for the Rockets.
One of the players who struggled the most tonight was MVP frontrunner James Harden.
On 22 shots, James Harden only managed to score 18 points in the Rockets’ win. Rockets’ fans expecting a statement game from their superstar was left mildly disappointed. It was revealed after the Rockets’ win that Harden was playing under the weather.
If the Rockets want to dethrone the defending champions, as it is presumed that the Golden State Warriors will advance to the Western Conference Finals, James Harden has to be at his best. Harden missing 15 shots is a recipe to be eliminated in a sweep.
The Houston Rockets played a shorthanded Utah Jazz team and struggled to put them away. Despite not having guard Ricky Rubio for the entire series, and Dante Exum for Game 5, the Jazz refused to let the Rockets completely put them away. The Jazz had a good chance at extending the series. If it were not for Chris Paul’s heroics and an injury to a Jazz player the Rockets would be returning to Utah for a Game 6.
A lot of the wind left the Utah Jazz sail late in the fourth quarter.
Donovan Mitchell went down with an apparent knee injury just as the Jazz were clawing their way back against the Rockets. The rookie sensation was hurt while attempting a crossover against James Harden. Seconds later, Mitchell was in noticeable pain. He would then be helped off the court by members of the Jazz training staff.
According to ESPN‘s Royce Young, the early x-rays on Donovan Mitchell’s knee came back negative. If there is some swelling in his knee it could spell doom for Mitchell and the Jazz. The Rockets were fortunate to play the Jazz without Donovan Mitchell in the game’s closing minutes.