Houston Rockets

NBA Playoffs 2019: Four Takeaways from Rockets series-clinching Game 5 win over Jazz

James Harden scored a game-high 26 points to propel Houston past Utah (NBA Getty Images)

The Houston Rockets have punched their ticket to the Western Conference Semifinals with a 100-93 win over the Utah Jazz.

James Harden led the way for Houston with 26 points and six assists despite the fact that he shot 10-for-26 from the field. Chris Paul finished Game 5 with 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals while Clint Capela put forth an impressive 16-point, 10-rebound double-double.

Royce O'Neale's 18 points paced the Jazz, while Donovan Mitchell struggled throughout the game, scoring 12 points on 4-for-22 shooting.

Houston now awaits the winner of the first round series between top seed Golden State and the eighth-seeded LA Clippers.

For more on how Game 5 went down, here are four takeaways from the Rockets win:

Houston must clean up turnovers

The Rockets let the Jazz hang around in Game 5, partly thanks to their 17 turnovers, which the Jazz turned into 22 points on the night.

After averaging 13.3 turnovers during the regular season, that number has climbed to 14.7 per game in the post-season.

In the first quarter, the Rockets had every opportunity to pull away from the Jazz, who shot 6-for-20 for the period, but Houston's inability to hang onto the ball kept things close.

Looking ahead to the next round where they will likely face the Golden State Warriors, they can ill-afford to be careless with the basketball.

Mitchell's struggles prove costly

The heroics from Game 4 didn't re-appear in Houston today, with Mitchell struggling to find his rhythm all game, shooting just 4-for-22 from the field and 0-for-9 from the 3-point line, finishing with 12 points on the night.

He had a huge chance down the stretch, with his team trailing 94-93 with under a minute left after PJ Tucker missed a pair of free throws, but on the ensuing possession, Mitchell turned the ball over as he attacked the paint, his fifth of the night.

Tucker made no mistake with another trip to the foul line, burying both free throws and the Jazz's season.

Over five games of the series, Mitchell shot 32% from the field, 25.6% from three and averaged 4.2 turnovers per game.

Harden works through the slump

Game 3 of this series saw Harden begin the night missing his first 15 shots. After bouncing back to shoot 42.1% in Game 4, Harden experienced more struggles in the closeout game.

Houston's reigning MVP opened Game 5 by missing 10 of his first 11 shot attempts including a dunk attempt that came up short, but shooters can't stop shooting.

And Harden would continue to shoot.

A wide-open 3-pointer seemingly got things going for Harden, who would finish the game by knocking down nine of his final 15 shot attempts to finish with a game-high 26 points on 10-for-26 shooting.

Harden's performance in Game 5 should serve as a reminder that sometimes, the numbers don't tell the full story. At first glance, shooting 38.5% from the night would appear to be terrible for a player of his calibre, but his going 9-for-15 (60%) after an extremely rough start serves as a reminder of just how good he is and why.

The Rockets will be in a good spot if their leading scorer can take this momentum into the next round.

Run it back

This is exactly what this team has been preparing for since Chris Paul announced his intentions to re-sign on July 1.

It's coming one round earlier than most would have thought, but a rematch with the defending-champion Warriors appears to be imminent for this Rockets team. From being two games under-.500 in early Dec. to having a legitimate shot at the West's No. 2 seed, it's been a crash course for Houston to get to this point.

But it's here now.

The core of Paul, Harden, Capela, Eric Gordon, and PJ Tucker remains intact, but Houston has re-tooled by adding Danuel House Jr., Austin Rivers and Kenneth Faried to contribute off the bench. Both Gerald Green and Nene have the memory of last years Game 7 loss to the Warriors in their memory and could be X-Factors in contributing to the Rockets pursuit of a second-straight Conference Finals berth.

Every practice, game, and moment came with this bigger picture in sight. It's time for the Rockets to run it back.

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