SALT LAKE CITY — Following their blowout loss to the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the best-of-seven first round playoff series, all the talk surrounding the Utah Jazz heading into Game 2 was about adjustments, effort and execution.
None of those were on display early on Wednesday night, as far as Twitter was concerned, as the Jazz fell behind by as many as eight points in the opening minutes of the game.
Turnovers in particular proved problematic.
The Rockets would eventually stretch their first quarter lead to as many as 20 points and ended the quarter with a 39-19 lead, aided by an abysmal shooting performance by Utah.
The slow start quickly had Jazz fans throwing in the proverbial towel, both on the game and series.
Harden picking on Rubio
For as bad as the Jazz were offensively, James Harden was the polar opposite for the Rockets. Harden finished the first quarter with 17 points on 5 of 10 shooting.
Ricky Rubio was once again tasked with being the primary defender on Harden, and the Beard’s hot start had fans feeling for the Spaniard, as well as appreciating the prowess displayed by the reigning NBA MVP.
Second quarter turnaround, powered by Royce O’Neale
While things couldn’t have gone much worse for the Jazz in the first quarter, the team turned it around briefly in the second period.
Utah went on a 9-3 run to open the quarter, cutting the Rockets lead by a third, 21 to 14.
Royce O’Neale in particular was instrumental in the run, thanks to his hot shooting (4 of 5 from the field, 2 of 3 from behind the arc).
The turnaround proved short lived, however, thanks to Harden, who hit back-to-back three-pointers to push the Rockets ahead, once again, by 20-plus points. He would go on to finish the half with 25 points, seven assists and seven rebounds. Eric Gordon added 16 first half points, with P.J. Tucker chipping in 12 as Houston took a 70-44 lead in the break.
Ultimately, the Jazz’s performance left absolutely no one impressed.
Of course, some late intel provided compelling evidence for why the Jazz have struggled so far this series.