SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Clearly, the Jazz victory in Game 2 ticked off the Houston Rockets.
Last night, Houston came out with a vengeance and cruised to a 113-92 win to take a 2-1 series lead.
The Rockets built a 20-point lead in the first quarter, a 30-point lead at the half, and a 38-point lead in the third quarter. So do the Jazz let this loss sink in, or erase it from their minds as soon as possible?
“You can’t overlook this game because you’ve got to learn from it,” said Jazz forward Jae Crowder. “You’ve got to watch it, and it’s got to sting a little bit. It should sting a little bit.”
“They were the aggressor the entire night,” said Donovan Mitchell, who had his worst game of the playoffs with 10 points on 4 of 16 shooting. “We didn’t respond in any way. We’ve got to take this one on the chin and respond in Game 4.”
“The good thing about it is we know why we lost,” added Rudy Gobert, who had 12 points and 9 rebounds. “It’s better than losing and you don’t know why. But it’s also a good experience for us. We’re just learning and we can only get better from this.”
Everything that could go wrong did. From Houston shooting 60 percent in the first half, to Mitchell missing 11 of his first 12 shots, to the Jazz committing 16 turnovers while only forcing only 8, to Derrick Favors leaving with a sprained ankle, it was just the perfect storm and the Jazz got blown away.
“For us, the margin of error is not that great,” said head coach Quin Snyder. “They were focused and determined to do what they wanted to do. I don’t think anybody really did their job defensively, and it showed because it just looked porous.”
“They picked up their level of play and imposed their will from start to finish,” added Crowder. “I think we’ve got to adjust, bring it and match their level, if not, exceed it.”
“They were a lot more physical than what they had been,” said Joe Ingles, who scored just 6 points on 2 of 10 from the field. “I think it showed that they were pissed off after losing. They came out more aggressive.”
“Game 2 was a learning experience for us,” said James Harden, who had 25 points and 12 rebounds. “We came out so slow, so from the beginning of the game we made a conscious effort to get stops and offensively push the pace and get shots. I think we did that.”
But the Jazz could get a boost in Game 4 as starting point guard Ricky Rubio was upgraded to questionable after missing the first four games of the series with a hamstring injury.
Mitchell took a lot of responsibility for the Game 3 loss, which is kind of unfair for a rookie, but his shot selection has to be better.
“I’ve got to pass the ball, for starters,” said Mitchell, who had just three assists. “I can’t shoot terrible shots. That’s what leads to their transition. I don’t know how many shots I missed, but the shots that I missed were terrible shots.”
One of the bright spots was the play of Royce O’Neale, who started in place of the injured Ricky Rubio, and led the Jazz with 17 points.
“I’m just trying to be a spark, whether I’m starting or coming off the bench,” O’Neale said. “Be that guy that brings a lot of energy. I just sparked a little run for us and tried to get us going.”
The Jazz will need more of that from a lot of guys tomorrow night. Like Rubio, Favors is also listed as questionable as he hopes to play on that sprained ankle.
Game 4 starts at 6:00 p.m. at Vivint Smart Home Arena.