Just like they did in the first round against the Thunder, the Jazz bounced back from a Game 1 loss to tie their best-of-seven series at 1-1.
The Jazz held off a hard-charging Rockets squad, 116-108, stealing home-court advantage away from the NBA’s best team. It wasn’t all Donovan Mitchell for the Jazz this time, as six different Utah players posted double-digit scoring numbers.
Here are three takeaways from the Jazz’s win in Game 2…
Jazz keep their composure
The Jazz came into Game 2 expecting to play better. They didn’t just see a drastic improvement from Game 1 — they had arguably their best effort of the season.
Utah came out swinging with the intention to send the Rockets a message. Quin Snyder’s bunch built a lead that ballooned to as many as 19 points, but the Rockets fought back and eventually eliminated the deficit in the third quarter.
The Jazz had every opportunity to fold and let the Rockets take over the game, but they remained composed and relied on their defense to get a victory.
Snyder should get a lot of credit for the adjustments he made not only before the contest, but his in-game tweaks as well. The Jazz were able to outplay the Rockets by going small with Dante Exum and Derrick Favors — something not many would have seen coming before the series started.
How about the Aussies?
Joe Ingles was simply unbelievable in Game 2, going for a career-high 27 points (7-for-9 from 3-point range). Exum came off the bench and gave James Harden a tough time with his length and athleticism. Exum also added a bit of a scoring punch, finishing with nine points, four rebounds and one nasty finish in transition.
Mitchell turned into more of a facilitator in Game 2 with Ricky Rubio still out of the lineup, but if the Jazz don’t get the effort they do out of Ingles and Exum, Utah wouldn’t be leaving Houston with home-court advantage.
Where is Chris Paul?
Paul had 23 points, five rebounds, three assists and was a minus-3 in 35 minutes on Wednesday night. While those numbers don’t look terrible, his impact on the game was almost non-existent.
As a member of the Clippers during last year’s playoffs, Paul was able to put up his usual great numbers against the Jazz, but again, his impact on the games was minimized, leading to a first-round exit.
CP3 came to Houston because he didn’t want to have to carry the full offensive load like he did in Los Angeles and New Orleans. He was able to excel as the second option behind the likely MVP in Harden, but he can’t remain a passenger in the postseason if the Rockets are to have any sort of success.