Harden Blasts Ingles' Jazz

Rockets go 1-0 up

Harden Blasts Ingles' Jazz

Joe Ingles' Utah Jazz were wounded and weary entering game one of their NBA western conference semi-final series against the Houston Rockets and James Harden showed no mercy.

Harden had 41 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in leading the top-seeded Rockets to a 110-96 demolition of the Jazz on Monday.

Utah had less than 48 hours' rest after eliminating the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday in a bruising six-game first-round series that claimed starting point guard Ricky Rubio with a hamstring injury. 

They also had to endure an early three-hour flight to Houston while the Rockets were refreshed after wrapping up their first-round series 4-1 against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday.

"We had energy from the beginning of the game," Harden said.

"We knew what they just went through with the last series and we had a couple of days rest, so we wanted to pick the pace up." 

The Rockets were always in control, held leads as high as 27 points and were in lethal shooting form, connecting on 17 of 32 three-point attempts. 

The Jazz refused to blame the lack of rest for the loss.

"It's a quick turnaround and there was some fatigue but it wasn't the reason for the performance," star Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell said.

Utah coach Quin Snyder said the Rockets were "too good".

With Rubio possibly out injured for the series, point guard duties will largely rest with Ingles and Mitchell.

"So yes, it's a little different playing without him but we have done it before as he has missed a couple of games this year and we just have to get everyone involved," Ingles said. 

Ingles hit the Jazz's first two baskets and finished with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists while Mitchell had 21 points. 

Utah's other Australian, Dante Exum, was hardly used in the Thunder series but had nine points in 15 minutes of court time. 

The Jazz had another injury scare when Mitchell rolled his right ankle in the fourth quarter attempting to catch an Ingles alley-oop pass, but the Rookie of the Year candidate said he was "fine".

The Rockets' All-Star tandem dominated with Harden hitting seven of 12 three-point attempts and fellow guard Chris Paul adding 17 points and six assists.

Game two is in Houston on Thursday.

AAP

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