Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz: Lineups, preview & prediction 5/6/18

The Houston Rockets look to complete a sweep of their trip to Utah on Sunday night and put the Jazz in a 3-1 hole in their Western Conference semifinal series.

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(Photo Credit: USA Today Sport via Reuters/Russell Isabella)

Houston (65-17) bounced back from their surprising Game 2 loss by throttling Utah 113-92 on Friday night to regain home-court advantage and take a 2-1 series lead. James Harden had 25 points and 12 assists while Eric Gordon added 25 points off the bench for the Rockets, who had eight assists on eight of their first 11 baskets and raced out to a 28-12 lead in the first 7:54 of the game.

Chris Paul chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists as Houston racked up 26 assists to just eight turnovers and outscored Utah 19-8 in points off turnovers. A victory in this game would move the Rockets one win shy of their second conference finals appearance in four years.

Royce O’Neale, starting again in place of the injured Ricky Rubio, had 17 points, but rookie Donovan Mitchell hit just four of 16 shots and finished with ten. The Jazz were held to a postseason-low in points, and their 41.7 shooting percentage matched their second worst of the playoffs.

Rubio, who has yet to play in this series due to a strained hamstring suffered in Utah’s series-clinching victory over Oklahoma City in the first round, has been upgraded to questionable for this game. The Jazz have sorely missed him after he averaged 14.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists against the Thunder.

Rubio practiced ahead of Game 3 before being held out, and Jazz coach Quin Snyder told the Salt Lake Tribune, “He’s making progress. How much progress is always hard to gauge. I think it would be imprudent of me to try to be more specific than that, because we don’t know. He’s in good hands with Mike Elliott (the head of the team’s medical and sports science efforts) … he and his group.”

The series will return to Houston for Game 5 on Tuesday night.

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