Harden, Rockets easily roll past Jazz in opener

James Harden and the Rockets easily raced past Joe Ingles and the Jazz in Game 1 of their first-round series.

The Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz are meeting for the second straight postseason, and if the Jazz don’t clean up their defense the result is likely to be the same.

James Harden scored 29 points and passed for 10 assists as the Rockets waltzed to a 122-90 win over the visiting Jazz in the opener of their Western Conference first-round series.

The Rockets were up by double figures for most of the night, though the Jazz did cut the deficit to five points midway through the third quarter. But it was all Rockets after that, mirroring their 4-1 series win in last season’s West semifinals.

Houston was up by 15 in the fourth quarter before Harden, who had eight rebounds, scored six points in a 9-2 run that stretched the lead to 108-86 with four minutes left and both teams cleared their benches about a minute after that.

Houston’s starting lineup helped carry the scoring load , with each starter scoring at least 10 points. Eric Gordon had 17, Clint Capela scored 16, Chris Paul added 14 and P.J. Tucker had 11.

Rudy Gobert led the Jazz with 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Donovan Mitchell tacked on 19 points, but failed to compile a single assist.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.