JAMES HARDEN had 22 points, 10 assists and six steals to rally the Houston Rockets to a 104-101 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night in Salt Lake City.
Chris Paul added 18 points for Houston. The Rockets took a 3-0 series lead. Game Four is Monday night in Utah.
Donovan Mitchell scored 34 points to lead the Jazz. Derrick Favors added 13 points, while Rudy Gobert chipped in 10 points, eight rebounds, and seven blocked shots.
The Jazz couldn’t overcome 14 turnovers and 13 missed free throws.
Harden went 0-of-14 from the field through the first three quarters. He missed 15 straight shots overall before scoring on a dunk with 7:34 left in the fourth quarter. Harden finished 3-of-20 from the field but made hay at the free-throw line by sinking 14 of 16 attempts.
Houston weathered Harden’s shooting slump by getting key contributions from multiple role players. Clint Capela had 11 points and 14 rebounds, while PJ Tucker had 12 and 10, respectively.
After Georges Niang hit a jumper to extend Utah’s lead to 80-76, Gerald Green put the Rockets in front with back-to-back three-pointers. That sparked a 13-3 run that Harden finished off with back-to-back baskets to give Houston an 89-83 lead with 6:57 remaining.
Mitchell hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 96-95. Harden answered with a 3-pointer on the other end and hit a pair of free throws to put Houston up 101-97 in the final minute.
Mitchell missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds that could have sent it to overtime.
The Jazz jumped out to an 8-0 lead 94 seconds into the game. Mitchell threw down a hammer dunk and converted a four-point play on back-to-back possessions to lead the charge.
Houston settled things down and tied it at 15-15 on a three-pointer from Danuel House that capped off a 12-4 run. The Rockets tied it twice more in the quarter. The Jazz responded with baskets each time to keep the Rockets from taking the lead.
Houston did not get its first lead until Green hit a three-pointer to open the second quarter for a 31-30 advantage. After the teams traded treys, the Jazz didn’t trail the rest of the first half following Favors’ back-to-back dunks to put Utah ahead 37-34.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks also moved to 3-0 up in their own first-round series with the Pistons with a 119-103 victory in Game Three on Saturday in Detroit.
Khris Middleton recorded 20 points and nine rebounds to help Milwaukee while
Brook Lopez recorded 19 points, seven rebounds and five blocks in the win. — Reuters