Utah Jazz vs Houston Rockets: Lineups, preview & prediction 5/8/18

LeBron James

After posting a league-best 65 wins, Houston has often looked like a juggernaut during the postseason, compiling a 7-2 record and a league-best +9.3 point differential against Minnesota and Utah. He also spent most of the night trying to lock down Rockets superstar James Harden and had marginal success in his efforts.

"I've been here before, 3-1", he said. "It is what it is". "Every single night he has our back, and it feels good to have somebody have our back like he does". A good birthday gift. Whether he can maintain this level of play or surpass could be the determining factor in whether or not the Rockets can overcome the reigning champs. While Paul and Harden were able to get points in the midrange game or at the free throw line, the Jazz weren't able to make any headway throughout the game. An alley-oop from Harden to Capela bumped the lead up to 17 points for the Rockets, and the offense was taking advantage of the gifts the Jazz kept giving to them.

Despite enjoying a career that will surely land him in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, Paul has never advanced out of the second round.

Exum played just 10 minutes in Game 4 before exiting with the hamstring injury.

Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute, who signed with the Clippers in the summer that followed their collapse, knows as well as anyone how that series stuck with Paul.

"The guy next to me called (referee James Williams) a (expletive), but they thought it was me", C.J., who played collegiately at Hampton University and University of South Carolina-Upstate, told USA TODAY Sports. "It was still very vivid, for everybody". "This entire season, we didn't come this far just to be up 3-1 in the semifinals, so we've got a long way to go". "He doesn't get a lot of credit for it". You're so close to getting to the conference finals, and you just don't do what you're supposed to do. Neither team has held back on the trash talk either, as rookie Donovan Mitchell showed during a postgame interview.

It could have been this play with two minutes remaining that fueled Mitchell's frustration. But the numbers don't lie. Joe Ingles finished with 15 points on six-of-13 shooting in the loss.

Clint Capela, the anchor of the Houston defence, had 12 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks, one of which featured a Dikembe Mutombo-like finger wag in the fourth quarter.

One of the positives on the Jazz side was how they didn't quit after being down by 19 points late in the third quarter. Utah owns a 103-94 edge in the all-time regular season series though the Rockets swept the four game regular season series this season, capped by a 96-85 road win on February 26.

Anita Lane is 82-years-old.

Houston ranks fifth in blocks allowed per game (4.4) while Utah ranks 11th (4.7).

Exum was whistled for three first-quarter fouls, with the last two (on a Harden drive and a Harden three-point attempt) questionable enough that the soldout Jazz crowd was incensed. Exum left the game in the third-quarter with a non-contact leg injury and he didn't return. Harden had 24 points, four rebounds, four steals, three assists and eight turnovers in the win.

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