The rockets show what they must: Lockdown D

HOUSTON – Donovan Mitchell's desperate 36-footer sailed on the board in a miserable moment that epitomized Utah's offensive offense in his 122-90 loss in Game 1 against the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

Mitchell had no choice but to throw a prayer after receiving a pbad so far from the basket, just before the expiration of the shot clock, which was thrown with the errant shot. The aggressive defense of the Rockets had turned off all the actions that the Jazz had attempted with possession. That was a topic throughout the night.

"His physicality interrupted us defensively," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "The ball stopped and got stuck on one side of the floor, we just have to be more determined in those situations."

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The Rockets kept the Jazz at 39 percent shooting from the floor (7 of 27 from 3 points) and forced 18 turnovers in the loss. It was the dominant type of defensive performance that gives the Rockets, an historically elite offensive team, the confidence that they are legitimate title contenders.

"I'm not surprised we can defend," said Rockets coach Mike D & # 39; Antoni. "Absolutely."

Houston, one of the NBA's worst defensive teams during the first half of the season, has excelled in that aspect since the All-Star break. Only Utah ranked above Houston in defensive efficiency since the All-Star break, as the Rockets only allowed 105.3 points per possession in that span, an important factor in their best league result of 20-5.

"That's what we have to do," said Rockets superstar James Harden, who scored 29 points and 10 badists. "This is how we have to play defensively, we have to be aggressive, we have to interrupt their routes and their plays and the things they like to do and make sure they are not comfortable, if we do not do that, we do not do it." "I do not have a chance, defensively, we have been locked in these last months."

Reserve guard Austin Rivers raised some eyebrows after the March 28 loss of the Denver Nuggets when he declared that the Rockets would win a championship if they continued playing the elite defense. That is a belief maintained throughout Houston's locker room.

"That's something we always emphasize," he said forward. PJ Tucker, the best defender of the Rockets. "When we are aggressive as a team, our defense goes to another level, we are being physical in the box off, in all the switches, and we are being aggressive and we get into people, making them drive, doing that, putting pressure on the offensive to try to make the right moves. "

The Jazz repeatedly made bad decisions under duress or had to settle for low-percentage shots in Game 1. With Eric Gordon as its main defender, Donovan Mitchell, a guy he went to in Utah, had a particularly difficult night, finishing with 19 points in 7 points -18 shots without badists and five turnovers.

"It's a game, and you have to learn from it, but I can not have badists and five turnovers," Mitchell said. "I do not care how many minutes you play or whatever, if you get five turnovers, you should look in the mirror and figure out how to adjust it."

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