HOUSTON (ABC4 Sports) – The game plan for Game 1 didn’t work, so it’s back to the drawing board for Game 2.
The Utah Jazz gave up 62 points in the paint to the Houston Rockets, made just 7 of 27 three-point attempts, and saw reigning MVP James Harden torch them for 29 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds.
“We didn’t play well,” said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder about the Jazz 122-90 loss to Houston on Sunday, their second worst playof loss in franchise history.
The Jazz strategy was to basically take the left side away from Harden in order to limit his step back 3-pointers. But it didn’t work because it either gave Harden an open lane to the bucket, or made it easy for him to find a cutting teammate when the defense did not rotate fast enough.
“It’s something where we’ve seen other teams doing it, and it works in some occasions, but some not,” said Ricky Rubio, who had 15 points and 6 assists. “We just have to stick with it. But of course, we’re going to make adjustments. But we can’t just give up what we think and what we believe.”
The Jazz defensive attack did not take Harden by surprise.
“I’ve seen literally every defense you can possibly see,” said Harden. “It’s just a matter of adjusting and continue to communicate with the guys, what spots they need to be in. That’s pretty much it.”
“He is so good offensively, it makes me laugh,” said Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni. “He’s just so good, I don’t know what you do. You’re not stopping him. I don’t care what you do.”
Offensively, the Jazz not only missed a number of open shots they normally make and shot just 39 percent from the field, but they committed 18 turnovers, which really killed any kind of momentum.
“I had no assists and five turnovers, that’s huge,” said Donovan Mitchell, who scored 19 points on 7 of 18 shooting. “It’s just one game and we’ll learn from it, but you can’t have no assists and five turnovers.”
“We’ve got to make better decisions,” said Snyder. “When they do collapse, we’ve got to do a better job of finding each other.”
But this series is not over. The Jazz won Game 2 in Houston last year in the Western Conference Semifinals after a Game 1 defeat, and they’re confident they’ll play much better on Wednesday.
“As the series goes on, we’re going to get better and make adjustments,” Rubio said. “We going to do this and that. We have one of the best coaches making adjustments.”
“We could have won this game by 90, lost this game by 90 or lost by one point,” added Mitchell. “It’s still a loss, still a win. It’s not like they get two wins.”
Game 2 is set for Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. mountain time.