First the first time in his career Chris Paul is headed to the conference finals. The Rockets defeated the Utah Jazz 112-102 in Game 4 much led by Paul’s career-high 41 points and 10 assists. Coming off previous years where CP3 was either injured or his team blew away a 3-1 lead this year is different.
The veteran point guard scored 20 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter as he unleashed an arsenal of three-point baskets and midrange jump shots in the lane. A man on a mission and tasting one quarter away from his first conference finals Paul knew he was in control of the Rockets and their destiny. James Harden would only score four points in the fourth quarter as he deferred to Paul. Harden finished with 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
The Rockets were typical in their game as they shot the three ball 46-percent from the field taking 39 attempts from behind the arc. The Jazz was led by their Rookie Donovan Mitchell who scored 24 points and contributed 4 rebounds and 9 assists. The Jazz played the entire series without their starting point guard Ricky Rubio. He was sidelined with a strained hamstring stemming from Game 6 in the Jazz first-round series with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Dante Exum also missed Game 5 with a hamstring injury as the backcourt for Utah grew thin.
Alec Burks came off the bench and scored 22 points to help Donovan but certainly not enough to fend off the CP3 attack in the fourth quarter of Game 5. Joe Ingles who averaged 14 points and shot 45-percent from behind the three-point line in the postseason only managed 12 points and shot 2-of-6 from the three in Game 5.
Next up for the Rockets will be hosting the defending champions, Golden State Warriors. The Rockets finished with the league’s best record with 65 wins and have secured homecourt advantage for the entire playoffs. Chris Paul and James Harden have equally been knocked out in previous years by the Warriors but will look to take on the tall task of defending the 2016-2017 champs together.
In a highly anticipated Western Conference matchup Game 1 is scheduled to start at 9 PM EST on TNT, Monday, May 14th.
Follow @BaselineTimes on Twitter for our upcoming Western Conference Preview!