Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE

The Roundup—Jazz put up a fight in season-ending loss to Rockets

by Matt Payne

After two lopsided losses in Salt Lake City, the Jazz gave the Rockets everything they could handle before falling 112-102 Tuesday night in Houston.

Utah's season is now over thanks to a 4-1 series loss in the Western Conference Semifinals.

The Jazz fought back from an 11-point deficit to take a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Rockets caught fire in the final period, outscoring the Jazz 37-24 to claim the victory.

"I'm so proud of what we've accomplished as a team, as a group," Rudy Gobert said after the game. "I'm just excited for the future."

Donovan Mitchell led Utah with 24 points and nine assists, while Alec Burks came off the bench for 22 points, three rebounds and five assists in 32 minutes.

Gobert (12 points, nine rebounds, five blocks), Royce O'Neale (17 points) and Joe Ingles (12 points, six assists) also scored in double figures in the loss.

Starting point guard Ricky Rubio (hamstring) missed his fifth straight game for the Jazz. He did not play at all in the Western Conference Semifinals after averaging 16.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.6 steals in the five playoff games leading up to his injury.

Houston's Chris Paul had his second straight spectacular game, scoring 41 points on 13-for-22 shooting (including 8-for-10 from 3-point range) and making clutch shot after clutch shot down the stretch. Paul added seven rebounds, 10 assists and a steal in 38 minutes.

P.J. Tucker chipped in 19 points, while James Harden finished with 18 points on 7-for-22 shooting in the win.

"[Utah was] unbelievable," Harden said. "Especially when no one expected them to be in the situation they're in right now. The sky is the limit for them."

Tuesday's Best

Mitchell struggled from the field in the first half with only two points on 1-for-5 shooting, but he still kept Utah's offense going by dishing out six assists. In the second half, the rookie turned it on with 22 third-quarter points to give the Jazz their first lead since early in the first quarter. Mitchell, though, injured his left foot when he collided with Harden with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. He did not return and finished with 24 points (on 9-for-17 shooting), four rebounds, nine assists and a steal in 34 minutes—a fittingly spectacular end to a remarkable rookie season.

Key Stretches

For the first time since their Game 2 win, the Jazz got off to a good start, jumping out to an 11-7 lead after seven minutes. Jae Crowder made a 3-pointer, while Gobert, Ingles and Mitchell each scored at the rim.

Houston went up by as many as eight midway through the first half, but Utah kept answering to keep it close. Burks scored nine points in a little more than two minutes, and then an 8-0 Jazz run—thanks to three straight assists by Mitchell—tied the game late in the second quarter.

After trailing by eight at halftime—and falling behind by 11 early in the third quarter—the Jazz turned it on with a 21-6 run to take a 73-69 lead. Mitchell knifed into the lane for a layup and then pulled up for a baseline jumper, while Gobert stuffed a layup attempt by Trevor Ariza. Mitchell found O'Neale for a slashing layup and then banked in a left-handed layup of his own. A bucket by Crowder, a corner three by Burks (off a pass from Mitchell), and another block by Gobert kept the Jazz rolling. After a jumper by Harden, Mitchell hit a corner three and then bounced in two more layups to put the Jazz up by four.

A layup by Derrick Favors gave Utah a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but Houston made two straight threes (by Paul and Tucker) to retake the lead. O'Neale bounced in a layup before Gerald Green made another three for the Rockets. A three by Burks ended Houston's 13-4 run and pulled Utah back within one with 7:50 left.

Mitchell, though, left with an injured foot with just over seven minutes left and did not return. The Rockets pushed their lead to eight before a 7-0 Jazz run (with five of those points by O'Neale) cut that lead to one with 4:34 remaining. Paul, though answered with eight straight points—capped by an off-balance, banked-in three that just beat the shot clock—to give Houston a nine-point lead with 2:30 left in the game. The Rockets cruised from there.

Significant Stats

46.2

The Rockets shot 18-for-39 (46.2 percent) from 3-point range, with Paul (8-for-10) and Tucker (5-for-7) leading the way. Houston's regular 3-point snipers—Harden, Ariza and Eric Gordon—combined to shoot only 2-for-14 from beyond the arc.

+16

Utah outscored Houston 50-34 in the paint.

63.2

The Jazz caught fire in the third quarter, shooting 63.2 percent from the field and outscoring the Rockets 32-21. Mitchell scored 22 of those points on 8-for-11 shooting, marking the second time he's scored 22 points in the third quarter during the playoffs. The other was in Game 6 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Coach's Quote of the Night

"This is as grateful as I've been in the time that I've been doing this to be part of a team that's had the resiliency and the toughness to compete the way they have all year."

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

Notable

Danté Exum (hamstring) did not play for the Jazz. ... The Jazz shot 46.9 percent from the field and 76.2 percent (16-for-21) from the free-throw line. ... Houston scored 19 points off of Utah's 12 turnovers. ... The game featured six ties and six lead changes. ... This marks the second straight year that the Jazz lost to the top-seeded team in the Western Conference Semifinals. Last season they were swept by the Warriors.

Up Next

Utah's 2017-18 season has concluded. The NBA Draft is scheduled for June 21, and the 2018 Utah Jazz Summer League will take place in early July at Vivint Smart Home Arena.