The key to playoff success for the Rockets depends on Eric Gordon

The Nuggets were limping into the playoffs … until they weren’t

Gary Harris led Denver with 20 points and Murray had 17, but that was on 8-of-24 shooting, including 0 for 6 from the arc.

Thing is, Houston apparently has a solid jaw - and is more than capable of throwing big haymakers of its own.

Harden remained in the game and proved instrumental in Houston regaining control.

"If you give a team that's that good multiple possessions ..." he added, trailing off, not needing to state the obvious conclusion.

In October, Gordon averaged 14 points a game, the lowest out of any month this season, while shooting a awful 23.4% from behind the three-point line, and it is no coincidence that Houston was an abysmal 1-5.

Rudy Gobert has always been defiant. Stop the penetration? Or hang back and play the lob?

According to oddsmakers, the Rockets are favored at home in this game, as they are getting odds of -6 points against the Jazz.

Utah, on the other hand, converted only 39% from the field, and made just 7 of 27 from deep (25.9%). Donovan Mitchell had 19 points, but did not have an assist as the Jazz went long stretches without scoring.

The Nuggets, making their first playoff appearance in six years, trailed most of the night. "Seeing his progress from the beginning - when Dejounte went down - you see it every single day, every single week, every single month, and to be here in the big moments and see how he steps up, he came up big". In doing so, they became one of the few teams in the league to make his defense and overall impact look mortal. When they do collapse, do a better job of finding each other. Sometimes, not much needs to be said. They went away from it a bit halfway through this season because they were getting killed by offenses due to it. Clint Capela was unable to hang with point guards as well as he did past year, and the ancillary defenders with Trevor Ariza gone just weren't quite as good. Eric Gordon had 17, Clint Capela scored 16, Chris Paul added 14 and P.J. Tucker had 11.

Utah's bench had an off night, contributing just 18 points total spread across eight players.

Houston blew a big lead at Oklahoma City in their season finale on Tuesday, which put them in the 4 seed in the West instead of potentially taking the 2 seed.

"Honestly, we could've won this game by 90, lost this game by 90 or lost it by one", said Mitchell, who ended with 19 points, five rebounds along with zero assists and five turnovers.

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