Behind James Harden’s massive 41 point night, the Houston Rockets took care of the Utah Jazz with relative ease. Part of this could be explained by the Utah Jazz coming off a draining series finale with the Thunder only to play the #1 team in the league a day and a half later. But if we’re being honest, this was mostly due to the Houston Rockets being as good as advertised.
If the Jazz want to have any sort of success against the Rockets, they’ll have to find some way to slow Harden. Easier said than done. Harden has been an isolation monster all year and guarding him is nearly impossible. If you guard him close, he can go to the rim and either score, find Clint Capela at the rim or a corner three. If you give him space he takes a step back three and buries it. And all of this happens while he creates fouls at an elite level.
For Jazz fans there were two things to be somewhat optimistic about:
Donovan Mitchell got to where he wanted on the offensive end, even while being guarded by Trevor Ariza for much of the night. If he can consistently score, that gives the Jazz a base to build on, but they’ll need contributions from many other places.
Raul Neto got minutes and looked good! If Neto can stay on the floor and guard Chris Paul, the Jazz have a chance at getting some production from their bench. That’s no small thing considering how shaky the Jazz bench was against the Thunder.