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James Harden, Houston Rockets defeat Utah Jazz to reach second round

By Connor Grott
James Harden, Houston Rockets defeat Utah Jazz to reach second round
Houston Rockets guard James Harden had a game-high 26 points with six rebounds and six assists in the Rockets' Game 5 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. File Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE

April 25 (UPI) -- James Harden and the Houston Rockets ousted the Utah Jazz with a 100-93 win Wednesday night to clinch their first-round playoff series in five games.

The Rockets advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the third consecutive season with the win. Houston edged the Jazz with its defensive effort, recording 12 steals and 12 blocks. It was the first playoff contest in which the Rockets tallied double figures in both since Game 5 of the 1994 Western Conference finals. Houston won an NBA championship in that same year.

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"We didn't make as many shots as we wanted to offensively, but these last few games we hung our hat on defense," Harden told reporters. "And that's what's going to get us to our goal. The shot making is extra as a bonus for guarding like we're guarding."

Harden had a game-high 26 points with six assists, six rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Chris Paul recorded 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.

RELATED Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors stifle Orlando Magic to clinch series

Houston big man Clint Capela, who was battling an upper respiratory infection, registered 16 points, 10 rebounds and three rejections. Eric Gordon added 15 points, two steals, three assists and three boards.

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Royce O'Neale led the Jazz with 18 points in 33 minutes off the bench. Ricky Rubio had a double-double with 17 points and 11 assists. Donovan Mitchell had 12 points on 4-of-22 shooting, including a 0-for-9 mark from 3-point range.

Jae Crowder also provided a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Rudy Gobert had nine points and 10 boards.

RELATED Philadelphia 76ers dominate Brooklyn Nets, advance to second round

The Rockets play the winner of the Los Angeles Clippers-Golden State Warriors series in the next round.

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