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Harden scores 29 as Rockets rout Jazz in Game 1

Harden scores 29 as Rockets rout Jazz in Game 1

Ricky Rubio started after missing four of the last five games of the regular season with a quadriceps injury. The Utah Jazz are shooting 25.9 percent from beyond the arc and 85.2 percent from the free throw line.

Harden picked up his fourth foul on the back end of an extended run by the Jazz that resulted in Utah slicing a 15-point deficit to 66-61 on a Mitchell pull-up jumper with 7:57 left in the period.

Rudy Gobert is adding 15.9 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per contest. Donovan Mitchell added another 19 points and five rebounds on 7-of-18 shooting. The Houston Rockets have won each of their last eight home games.

Nuggets All-Star Nikola Jokic tallied a triple-double of 10 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists, but was virtually a non-factor on offense as he nailed only 4 shots out of 9 attempts. The Utah Jazz are allowing 36.6 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 41 rebounds per game. Houston is a 6.5-point favorite and the over-under for total points scored is 212.5 in the latest Jazz vs. Rockets odds, down sharply from an open of 219.

Pick up the pace - As Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni noted Saturday, they need to push the pace against Utah and avoid running the shot clock down repeatedly. He still led the team in scoring and helped facilitate solid offensive nights from everyone else in the starting lineup in the lopsided win.

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The Jazz are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven road games against a team with a winning home record and 20-5-1 ATS in their last 26 games following a loss. They'll assuredly come into this series prepared and with a well-crafted game plan, courtesy of Quin Snyder, that if executed well could very well lead to victory.

However, Houston learned the hard way last season about taking the Jazz for granted.

White similarly starred with a crucial steal on Jamal Muray mid-court with 1.3 seconds left before icing the game for the Spurs with two free throws. Houston is healthy and clicking on offense, which is something it has struggled with throughout the season. I think the Rockets and Harden will score at a pace that the Jazz just can't sustain, especially down the stretch.

Reserve guard Austin Rivers raised some eyebrows after a March 28 rout of the Denver Nuggets when he declared that the Rockets would win a championship if they continued to play elite defense.