The Houston Rockets are heading to the Conference Finals, thanks to a powerhouse performance from Chris Paul.
Paul exploded for a playoff career-high 41 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, dominating from start to finish as the Rockets held off the Utah Jazz 112-102.
With CP3 putting on his best performance of the season Tuesday here are three takeaways from Game 5.
Chris Paul = Man on a mission
Nobody wanted to win this game more than Chris Paul as he finally sealed his first trip to the Conference Finals.
With James Harden struggling on offense (7-of-22 FG), Paul took the wheel and kept the Rockets attack humming, scoring 20 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter. Paul got whatever he wanted from mid-range, and was evend eadlier from deep, connecting on a scorching 8-of-10 from the three-point line. The Jaz just couldn't slow him down no matter who they put on him.
Paul's ability to control games is a luxury the Rockets didn't have last year, especially when Harden isn't firing. Whenever the Jazz tried to claw their way back in, Paul provided a steadying hand to keep getting good looks at the rim or from three. When his teammates weren't hitting shots, he just took over.
Chris Paul finished with 41 points, a career playoff high which included 20 points in the 4th quarter, a career-high for most points in a quarter (regular season & playoffs) pic.twitter.com/btPs6yBMDS- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 9, 2018
The small window of success the Jazz had, came when Paul was off the floor in the third quarter when they went on a 12-0 run. He promptly returned to the court and put an end to that.
Houston's perimeter defense
The one game the Rockets lost this series was when the Jazz lit them up from the three-point line, burying 15-of-32 from deep in Game 2. Houston learned their lesson quickly and haven't allowed them the time or space on the perimeter to do that again and today was the perfect example of that.
Paul, Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute ran the Jazz shooters off the three-point line, forcing them to find their offense in the paint and deal with Clint Capela, who finished with five blocks on the night.
Joe Ingles (2-of-6) and Donovan Mitchell (2-of-7) their two biggest threats from deep could not get their shots off without a Rockets defender right in their face.
Injuries halt Jazz once again
The Utah Jazz have overcome injuries to several key players all season long, but today was a bridge too far.
Donovan Mitchell leaves game with apparent knee injury #Jazz pic.twitter.com/rVoB5diD3p- Sporting News Canada (@sportingnewsca) May 9, 2018
Early in the fourth quarter Donovan Mitchell banged his left knee against James Harden and went to the locker room and took the Jazz's chances of victory with him.
Mitchell single-handedly dragged the Jazz back into the game in the third quarter, scoring 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and with him out of the game, the Jazz simply had no answer for a red-hot Chris Paul.