The Rockets took a 2-1 series lead Friday night after an emphatic 113-92 road win over the Jazz in Game 3.
James Harden finished with 25 points and 12 assists, while Eric Gordon exploded for 25 points off the bench, shooting 8-of-13 from the field.
Here are three takeaways from Game 3...
Rockets' first-quarter flurry
The Rockets were the No. 1 team in the regular season in first-quarter scoring - it sure looked like it in Game 3.
They raced out to a 39-22 lead with the ball flying around the court as they racked up 10 assists on 16 made field goals in the opening frame. Even crazier than that? Houston didn't turn the ball over once.
This was the most in sync the Rockets have looked defensively with crisp rotations, terrific on-ball defense and successful switching. They seemingly closed every gap the Jazz tried create.
The @HoustonRockets are red hot!- NBA (@NBA) May 5, 2018
HOU shoots 61.5% from the field in the 1st en route to 39-22 lead.#Rockets | #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/ASJjq64Xb7
Their first-quarter outburst set the tone for the game, with the lead ballooning to 38 at one point.
Can't stop Clint Capela
There are few bigs that can impact the game on both ends like Clint Capela, and he was in his bag Friday night.
The big man finished with four blocks, but his presence alone in the paint consistently threw the Jazz off. He pressured and deflected shot after shot all night.
If his defensive work wasn't impressive enough, Capela was active running the floor, helping the Rockets get easy points in transition. They turned 16 Jazz turnovers into 19 points in Game 3.
Capela 👏 Blocks 👏 Shots 👏#Rockets | #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/qf5XSyaMXY- NBA (@NBA) May 5, 2018
The Derrick Favors-Rudy Gobert pairing slowed things down for the Jazz and clogged up the paint on offense. (Favors turned his ankle in the third quarter and missed the rest of the game.)
Donovan Mitchell's quiet night
Following Ben Simmons' struggles Thursday, fellow Rookie of the Year contender Donovan Mitchell finally looked like a first-year player in Game 3, finishing with just 10 points.
It simply wasn't his night. His shot refused to fall from the start (just 1-of-10 from the field in the first half), and things didn't improve as the game progressed (4-of-16 from the field overall, 2-of-7 from 3-point range).
While Mitchell had an off game, credit must go to Houston's defense. Trevor Ariza was draped over Mitchell like a blanket all game long, forcing him into difficult looks. When the Jazz forced the switch, Capela and Ariza worked in tandem to keep Mitchell away from the rim.
Without their young star firing, the Jazz couldn't find much offense anywhere else. Joe Ingles cooled off from deep, finishing with six points, and the Rockets refused to let Gobert finish any lobs or get anything clean at the rim.
Mitchell began to get his jumper going at the end of the third quarter, hitting back-to-back shots, but it was all too late by then.