The Rockets can close out the best-of-seven series on Tuesday in Game 5 at Houston and the defending champions can similarly do so on the same night.
Starting strong in the first half is becoming a signature for Houston.
For the Jazz, they're hoping that they can recreate the success they had in Game 2 when they led by as many as 19 points early, and held on for a 116-108 win.
After dominating Utah on their own floor Friday, Houston still had more to accomplish. On the season at home, the Rockets averaged nearly 114 points on 46 percent shooting from the field.
"You're not going to beat them if you're not going to score 115 points, I don't care how good your defense is", Gentry said. Harden then converted a driving layup and Paul a three-point play to push the lead to 58-48 at the break. Clint Capela dominated as well, with 12 points and 6 blocks.
"They were aggressive the entire night", Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said. In addition to Exum's day-to-day status, Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com reported Rubio was deemed questionable for Game 4 before ultimately sitting out, suggesting he may not be far from returning. The Rockets pressured Utah into making bad passes or settling for tough, contested shots. There's a reason Houston is the number one seed in the West and they proved it thoroughly in Games 3 and 4 in which the Jazz were handily defeated in both bouts on their home floor. Regardless of if the team blows it's 3-1 lead to the Jazz. Houston is 5-2 ATS in its last seven conference semi-final games dating back to last season. "Everybody's banged up, hamstring, ankle, knee, whatever it is, we just try to play through it as much as we can".
"We missed shots we normally make", added Mitchell. We kept them on their heels. Maybe - if everything went right.
Houston raised its level on defense.
Houston's game against Utah is one of two games on Tuesday. "We went on runs the few times we did, but we couldn't sustain it".
Most possessions ended up wasted and the gulf between the two teams quickly grew into a canyon.
"Well, this game we missed 22 shots at the time", Snyder said.
Paul got prickly later when asked to expand on his comments and share what he learned from that series. "We've just got to go out there and keep fighting".
Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell expressed frustration at some of the calls James Harden has been getting from officials following last night's crushing Game 4 loss.
Mitchell, in particular, has been a focal point of Houston's defense in the series and it has showed.
But somehow, the Clippers suffered one of the biggest collapses in National Basketball Association history by losing three straight games by double digits to be eliminated 4-3. "He was extremely aggressive tonight, which we need from him".
Instead, with Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio still out with a hamstring injury and Rockets stars James Harden and Chris Paul taking their team one step closer to the conference finals, the Jazz are on the verge of falling headlong into that canyon. Both are listed as questionable for Game 4.