This is what will happen to a game when Chris Paul feels mid-range jumpers like a layup.
All season long, the Rockets depends on its three-pointers and thunderous slam dunks that made them number one team in the West but Paul injected another arsenal on their team with his efficient perimeter jumpers especially when long range bombs aren’t connecting.
“I wasn’t joking about that,” Paul said of his layup comment. “If (Rudy) Gobert’s going to back, that’s what I’m going to shoot.”
The Rockets rode on the scoring explosion of Harden and Paul. James Harden logged 24 points while Chris Paul registered 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to snag another win in Utah for a commanding 3-1 series lead in their Western Conference semi-final round.
“It showed a lot of grit for us to come in here and win two games,” Paul said.
Houston is better known as the James Harden team when the “Fear the Beard” joined the team back in 2012 but in Game 4 Chris Paul took center stage and the main reason how the Rockets controlled the tempo of the game from first quarter until the last buzzer has sounded.
“Chris is shooting those shots like a layup,” Harden said. “He was extremely aggressive tonight, which we need from him.”
Utah Jazz’s super rookie Donovan Mitchell led his team with 25 points but was fouled out later in the game. Aussie streak shooter Joe Ingles added 15 markers.
Mitchell decided to take over the game late in the fourth when he continue to find wide open lanes, he carried the Jazz back from a deficit and closed the gap to 85-80 via a 10-2 blast as the home-crowd shook the arena.
However, Chris Paul spoiled all of that as he matched his best scoring performance in the current post-season campaign. Paul led the Rockets counter-attack as he dished the ball to Clint Capela inside the paint and in the next position he found an open Trevor Ariza for an easy three-pointer. Houston’s lead back in double-digits and they never turned back.
Rockets’ coach Mike D’Antoni is known for his art on offense and puts defense second but in Game 4 the Jazz felt the disruptive defensive of their opponent.
It’s all because of Clint Capela who swatted six blocks and each time he block a shot he did the famous Dikembe Mutombo finger wag. He also added 12 points and 15 rebounds.
“We missed 22 shots at the rim,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “We had our chances and didn’t convert. Some of them were contested. Some of them were open. You’re not going to get any better shot.”
Houston was in control in the second quarter by building a 15-point led then the Jazz stormed back and closed the score to 51-46 behind the back-to-back three-pointers from Donovan Mitchell. The score was 58-48 as both teams ended the first half.
The Jazz and the Rockets both struggle to find its shooting touches from behind the arc. Houston shoots 10-of-38 while Utah had 7-of-29.
“There’s all different ways to win. We’re not strictly a jump-shooting team,” D’Antoni said. “Chris has the mid-range, James gets to the hole and you got Clint down there. We’ve got a lot of other stuff we can go to.”
The Jazz already missed the services of Ricky Rubio due to an injury then they lost another guard in the third quarter. Dante Exum who is a surprised offensive weapon for coach Quin Snyder suffered a hamstring injury.
“Houston is that good. Give them credit. They know how to control a game,” Snyder said. “In spite of that, I thought we just hung in there and took shots and kept coming and kept coming and eventually couldn’t get over the hill.”