HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 14: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots the ball against the Utah Jazz during Game One of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 14, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

'It's only one game': Utah Jazz ready to move past a lopsided Game 1 loss to James Harden and the Rockets

by Aaron Falk

HOUSTON — Whether it’s back to the drawing board for some minor tweaks or some major changes, Ricky Rubio has full confidence in the man with the marker in his hand.

The Utah Jazz opened their best-of-seven series against the Houston Rockets with a dud on Sunday night, falling 122-90 to James Harden and company. But there was one major reason Rubio was looking forward with hope by the time he arrived at the podium for his post-game press conference.

“We’re going to make adjustments,” the point guard said. “We have one of the best coaches, if not the best coach, at making adjustments.”

Rubio is in the postseason for the second time in his career, but he has seen his team in this position before. The Jazz opened last year’s playoffs with a defeat in Oklahoma City. The team lost Game 1 of their second-round matchup with the Rockets, too. Both times, though, Jazz head coach Quin Snyder led his team to bounce-back wins in Game 2.

“Game 2 we’re going to do a better job,” Rubio said. “We have to learn. We have to watch film. We have to adjust.”

Rubio’s backcourt partner, shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, said his team wouldn’t let a lopsided loss affect them long.

“We could have won this game by 90, lost the game by 90, won by 1, lost by 1. It’s one game. It’s not like they get two wins,” Mitchell said. “It’s just about making adjustments and not overreacting to what happened.”

The Jazz opened this first-round series trying to make Harden uncomfortable, forcing the left-handed dynamo to his weaker right. Still,  Game 1 saw the league’s reigning MVP, lead all scorers with 29 points.

“It’s something that we see other teams doing,” Rubio said. “It works sometimes and some not. We have to just stick with it. Of course, we’re going to make adjustments. But we can’t just give up on what we think and what we believe. We’re forcing him right because to the left he’s got the step-back and it’s a 3 every time—no matter who is on him.”

The positives It took Harden 26 attempts to get those 29 points. And the Jazz were able to limit him to just three free throws on the night.

The negatives: It wasn’t good enough.

“It’s not just for one game. It’s a whole series,” Rubio said. “We have to do it over and over again. We have to make it tough for one of the best players in the league right now. He’s a great scorer. We have to get to know the game plan better. I think as the series goes on, we’re going to get better.”

Harden and the Rockets know that, too.

“I don’t mean to bring up last year,” Harden said, “but we played pretty well in Game 1 last year and they came in here in Game 2 and beat us. …

“It’s only one game. They’re going to make adjustments and we have to make adjustments.”

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