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SALT LAKE CITY — It turns out the Utah Jazz can be just as tough to stop when Donovan Mitchell is running the offense instead of simply creating it.
Mitchell’s ability to facilitate provided a key spark in Utah’s 116-108 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. The victory evened their Western Conference semifinals series at 1-1 and put the Rockets in a much tougher spot than expected heading into Game 3 on Friday.
Filling in for injured Ricky Rubio at point guard [url=http://www.officialblackhawksproshop.com/authentic-adidas-marian-hossa-jersey]Womens Marian Hossa Jersey[/url] , Mitchell dished out a career-high 11 assists against Houston. He had seven assists in the first half alone. The Jazz clicked all over the court with the rookie at the controls, shooting 52 percent from the field overall — including 15 of 32 from 3-point range.
“Just being poised and staying under control was the biggest thing,” Mitchell said. “It allows me to be able to make those passes and make those reads. The second half, I got away from it, but started to get back to it.”
Mitchell’s teammates did the most with those reads. Joe Ingles went a career-best 7 of 9 from 3-point range en route to a career-high 27 points. Alec Burks and Jae Crowder combined for 32 points and 14 rebounds off the bench.
Making the right reads offensively also paid off on the other end of the court. The Jazz were able to be more aggressive defensively and keep the Rockets on their heels during the first half and then late in the second half.
Utah stayed poised even after Houston rallied from a 19-point deficit and took a five point lead late in the third quarter.
“You’re going to have breakdowns against these guys because they’re so good,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “They put so much pressure on you. But I thought defensively we had a really good collective effort. We were a little tougher minded on defense [url=http://www.officialblues.com/authentic-adidas-jaden-schwartz-jersey]Youth Jaden Schwartz Jersey[/url] , more disciplined with what we were trying to do.”
For Houston, the loss feels like an unexpected turn after it swept all four regular-season meetings with the Jazz. The Rockets put themselves in an early hole with a tepid start. They lacked energy in the first half and it showed.
Utah pushed the pace before halftime and generated tons of open 3-pointers or open layups and dunks. Houston seemed to be on cruise control early. Even after James Harden woke the team up late in the second quarter, scoring 12 points in four minutes to spark a rally, the Rockets never quite fully got back on track.
“We just lost our way in the first half,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I thought we played better (after halftime). Series is on. We have to get it going now.”
Harden finished with 32 points, Chris Paul added 23 and Clint Capela chipped in 21 points. But Paul and Harden both struggled with their outside shot [url=http://www.sandiegochargersteamonline.com/joey-bosa-jersey]Womens Joey Bosa Jersey[/url] , going a combined 4 of 15 from 3-point range.
As a team, Houston shot just 10 of 37 (27 percent) from the perimeter. It offered a stark contrast from Game 1, where the Rockets went 17 of 32 from outside en route to a 110-96 win.
“They came out,” Paul said. “They made shots. They were aggressive. We didn’t. We got to stay more aggressive throughout the game on both ends.”
Houston hasn’t lost in Salt Lake City since falling to 120-101 to the Jazz on November 29, 2016. The Rockets won both regular-season games by 11 points — most recently 96-85 on Feb. 26 behind 26 points and 11 rebounds from James Harden.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin has won the 2018 George Halas Award from the Professional Football Writers of America.
The Halas Award is given to a NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. Goodwin had a career year on the field while dealing with family tragedies during the 2017 season.
Goodwin was signed as an unrestricted free agent last year. His wife [url=http://www.officialsharks.com/authentic-adidas-tomas-hertl-jersey]Tomas Hertl Jersey[/url] , Morgan, lost a premature baby boy due to complications during pregnancy on Nov. 12. Hours later, he caught an 83-yard touchdown pass, the longest by a 49ers player since 2014. He blew a kiss to the sky before crossing the goal line, and dropped to his knees in the end zone in prayer, overcome with emotion.
Goodwin also went through the loss of his biological father in December [url=http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/josh-ferguson-jersey]Josh Ferguson Jersey[/url] , then was carted off the field after being injured in the season finale. He finished with 56 receptions for 962 yards and two touchdowns and was third in the NFL in reception average at 17.2 yards.
He is the 50th Halas Award winner.
Other 2018 nominees were Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, Giants tackle Nate Solder and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
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