West Conf. Semis Game 4: Houston Rockets 100 - 87 Utah Jazz - 5 Talking Points
Talking points from a pivotal home game for the Jazz team, which faces elimination now.
The Vivint Smart Home Arena played host to what could plausibly be the Jazz's final home game of the postseason as the Utah Jazz dropped their second consecutive game in Salt Lake City to go 1-3 down in the Western Conference Semifinals against the top-seeded Houston Rockets.
There was no shortage of feistiness on the night, as both teams played physical playoff basketball for the most part and star rookie Donovan Mitchell fouled out late in the game.
The Rockets took an early lead and never relinquished it through the length of the game. While this game may not be the best advertisement for playoff basketball, the Rockets have shown in the previous round that they are eminently capable of winning in ugly fashion during the postseason as well - this was just another exhibit to add to that catalogue.
The usual suspects for both teams had a good game, but the result ultimately came down to the Rockets' superior depth chart, as well as the superior quality of their role players and stars. The following are 5 talking points from what was a pivotal game 4:
#5 Injury troubles affected the Jazz lineups on the night
While Ricky Rubio was only listed as 'questionable' a day prior to tip-off, preliminary tests before the game gave him a red light and he was ruled out of the Jazz rotation on the night. Rubio has not played thus far in this series and barring game 2, when Donovan Mitchell had the lion's share of playmaking responsibilities, the Jazz have been visibly affected on both ends of the floor by Rubio's injury-enforced absence.
The situation took a turn for the worse early in the first quarter when Royce O'Neale picked up a nasty knock on a knee-to-knee contact with Clint Capela. He was forced out and coach Quin Snyder had to substitute Dante Exum into his rotation earlier than he'd planned. O'Neal was able to shake off the impact injury and make a return in the second half, but there was more misfortune for the Jazz to follow.
With over 5 and a half minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Dante Exum flexed his left hamstring a little too tightly, and he had to hobble off the floor and had no more role to play in the game. The pull looks nasty enough to possibly rule him out of at least Game 5 based on the eye test, though we will have to wait for the Jazz medical team to release an official report for confirmation.
All-in-all, it was not a great night for the Jazz players' health.