But Utah stemmed that tide and took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter, where it took a team effort to stymie Houston and score enough to secure the win.
Despite a surge in the second and third quarters, the Rockets, who had the best regular-season record in the National Basketball Association, couldn't get back into the game.
A 27-point scoring barrage by Joe Ingles and key plays by fellow Australian Dante Exum have fired the Utah Jazz to a 116-108 victory over the Houston Rockets in game two of their National Basketball Association playoffs western conference semi-final series.
"They came out with had a different game plan and did things differently", Harden said.
"They made runs", Ingles said.
The Jazz came into Game 2 expecting to play better.
The Jazz led by as many as 19 in the first half, but the Rockets came back to take the lead in the third quarter. Houston shoots the three with the best of them and the Jazz need to find ways to match them.
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After the Rockets got two points back on a Harden floater, Utah responded when Mitchell blew past Trevor Ariza into the lane and found Joe Ingles wide open in the corner for a 3 after the defense rotated to try to stop him at the rim. He dished a personal-best 11 assists in the Jazz's 116-108 Game 2 win Wednesday. This was when the Jazz sailed back into the game thanks to the work of Mitchell. When the Rockets' second unit labored to build some momentum, Gobert and Favors started converting in the paint as the Jazz repeatedly left the Rockets scrambling defensively to cover the action. Harden scored 32, Chris Paul had 23 and Capela continued his strong showing in these playoffs with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Mitchell broke John Stockton's franchise playoff record with 11 assists, more than making up for his 6-of-21 shooting while playing point guard because Ricky Rubio was out with a hamstring injury. Overall, he went 7-9 from three and scored 27 points.
"We had some time to think about, and talk about what we do", Ingles said post-game.
Mitchell picked up his fifth foul of the game on the next possession, but after Houston took the ball out, the rookie forced James Harden into a shot-clock violation. "They were getting layups, dunks, free throws, a little bit of everything".
"Give them credit", Harden said. And in the second half, as the Rockets were threatening, the Jazz went on a soul-crushing 16-2 run. He finished with 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting. He racked up five assists in the first quarter and made excellent reads in the pick-and-roll.
"I mean, I got some good looks early from my teammates", Ingles said. This series is turning out to be more competitive than it appeared it'd be after Game 1. "I know this coach [Quin Snyder], he is always going to make adjustments".