NBA Playoffs 2019: The Rockets survive the historic shooting night of James Harden, rise 3-0 on Jazz



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The Houston Rockets had their first win in the first two games of their first round series against Utah Jazz, winning by more than 20 points in each game to take a 2-0 lead. The main reason for their success, as has been the case all season, was the play of their star man, James Harden.

In the first two games in Houston, Harden scored a triple double scoring 30.5 points, 10.5. rebounds and 10 assists per game, while shooting 44% of the field and 43% of the field at 3 points. As for the third match in Salt Lake City, well … it did not go as well. Harden missed his first 15 shots on the field and finished only 3 times out of 20 for one of the worst shooting performances in the NBA playoff history.

Harden started with a 0 out of 15 most missed shots in a row to start a game in the playoff history. And among the players who made at least 20 shots, only Karl Malone in 1997 and Kenyon Martin in 2003 had worse shooting performances than Harden in the playoffs in the last 30 years.

Using the same defense as that used against him in the first two games of the series, the Jazz was sitting on Harden's left hip, showing him a clear path to the basket as he was going right. It's a strategy that the Milwaukee Bucks have used with some effect in the regular season, but the Jazz did not have the expected success in Games 1 and 2.

The theory behind the defense is to prevent Harden from reaching his dominant left hand or his patented 3-pointer, and force him to take floats or throw the ball at less talented players. In Game 3, it worked to some extent. Harden failed to convince his float and missed most of his 3-point attempts.

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Harden's shooting table in Match 3

NBA.com/Stats

But to Harden's credit, he remained confident and recovered in the fourth quarter. After missing his first 15 shots, Harden scored three of five goals in fourth place and scored 14 of his 22 points in the frame while the Rockets earned a crucial win, 104-101. Up 3-0, they have a chance to play the fourth match and are guaranteed to move to the second round.

To Harden's credit, he also found a way to be productive even if his shot did not fall. He still finished with 22 points, four rebounds, 10 assists and six interceptions,

After the match, Harden claimed that he did not know that he was 0-15 at one point. He was shocked when he heard ESPN's Cassidy Hubbarth statistic during his post-game interview. Even though he may not know the exact figure, he clearly knew that he was struggling to shoot the ball, but he stated that it did not change his state of mind.

"I was aggressive," Harden said. "They were doing a job of challenging my shots, and these are shots I shoot every day, I'm going to live with them, the fourth game does not change, I'm going to continue shooting the same shots."

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