HOUSTON — In a series where their shots weren’t falling like normal, the Houston Rockets managed to close it out with some tough defense.
James Harden scored 26 points and the Rockets outlasted the Utah Jazz 100-93 on Wednesday night to win their first-round playoff series 4-1.
Houston advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the third straight season and will face the winner of the Los Angeles Clippers-Golden State Warriors series.
The Rockets had 12 steals and 12 blocks, the first playoff game where they had double figures in both since Game 5 of the 1994 Western Conference finals, just before they went on to win their first title.
“We didn’t make as many shots as we wanted to … but these last few games we hung our hat on defense,” Harden said.
Ricky Rubio cut Houston’s lead to 94-93 on a jump shot with about a minute left. P.J. Tucker missed two free throws, but grabbed a loose ball seconds later and was fouled again. This time he made both shots to make it 96-93.
“We didn’t want to go back to Utah,” Paul said. “We wanted to take care of business tonight. All night we were talking about energy. It’s always hard to beat a team and close them out.”
The Rockets got a solid game from Clint Capela, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds. He acknowledged having trouble breathing in the Game 4 loss because of an upper respiratory infection and was held to just four points.
After scoring 31 points to lead Utah to the victory in Game 4, Mitchell managed just 12 points on a night he missed all nine of his 3-point attempts.
“I’m upset but I’m going to be better,” the second-year player said. “Simply put. I wasn’t tonight and I’ll be better.”
Clippers 129, Warriors 121: OAKLAND, Calif. — Lou Williams hit a fadeaway jumper with 1:29 left and finished with 33 points and 10 assists while the Warriors uncharacteristically clanked shots much of the second half and could not make key stops. The defending champs saw their lead cut to 3-2, and needed far more than Kevin Durant’s playoff career-high 45 points. Patrick Beverley took a big charge against Klay Thompson with 1:40 left and scored 17 points for his best outing of the series.