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Houston Rockets

NBA Playoffs 2019: Four Takeaways from James Harden's triple-double performances as Rockets take 2-0 series lead over Jazz

James Harden and Royce O'Neale
(Getty Images)

The 2019 NBA Playoffs have already witnessed a couple of huge comebacks so far - a historic 31-point comeback by the Clippers against the Warriors and a 19-point come-from-behind win for the Nuggets against the Spurs.

Unfortunately for the Utah Jazz, there was no coming back today in Game 2 as the Houston Rockets, led by MVP candidate James Harden cruised to a 20-point win.

Dominating Game 2 on both ends of the floor right from tip-off the Rockets have now won both their home games by a combined margin of 52 points.

With the series shifting to Salt Lake City for the next two games, here are four takeaways from Game 2:

Rockets' first-quarter run

The Houston Rockets set up their Game 2 win early, outscoring the Jazz 39-19 in the first quarter.

James Harden led all scorers with 17 points (on 5-for-10 shooting) to go along with four assists in under 10 minutes of action, while Eric Gordon added eight points on a perfect 3-for-3 shooting from the field.

The Rockets shot 11-for-21 (52.4%) from the field as a team, while the Jazz were 8-for-25 (32.0%) from the field and an icy cold 1-for-13 (7.8%) from deep.

Up by 20 after the first 12 minutes, the Rockets never let go. Instead, they kept building their lead, extending it to 26 at halftime and 28 at the end of the third quarter, before taking their foot off the gas in the final quarter, with the game out of reach for the Jazz.

Donovan Mitchell's quiet game

The Rockets carried over their red-hot form from Game 1 to Game 2 and unfortunately for the Jazz, so did Donovan Mitchell's shooting woes.

In Game 1, the Jazz shooting guard had 19 points, 0 assists, and 5 turnovers on 7-of-18 shooting (38.9%,) including 3-of-7 from beyond the arc.

In Game 2, Mitchell did record 6 assists but only had 11 points on just 5-of-19 shooting from the field (26.3%) and 1-of-8 (12.5%) from beyond the arc, adding 4 turnovers on the night.

As the team's primary offensive weapon, Mitchell has to find a way to get his offence going, especially with the next two games at home.

Harden's sustains MVP form

Carrying over his regular season MVP form to the playoffs, Harden recorded his third career postseason triple-double with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists (all game-highs).

No player in Rockets franchise history has more than one postseason triple-double.

He was a +18 in Game 1 and +24 in Game 2. He did receive ample support, but he was clearly the driving force behind both wins.

Harden's Game 2 triple-double puts him alongside LeBron James, Charles Barkley, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, and Russell Westbrook as the only players with multiple 30-point playoff triple-doubles.

Utah's defence

The Jazz are clearly facing problems generating offence to compete with the Rockets, however, the defence isn't helping them out either.

In the regular season, Utah had the second-best defensive rating (105.2) , only allowing 9.8 three's per game and held their opponents to an average of 106.5 points per game.

In their two playoff games so far, they have been unable to have the same defensive impact against the Rockets., allowing an average of 16 three's per game and a total of 120 points per game.

Their effort and impact on the defensive end will have to improve if they want to give their offence and season a chance.

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