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James Harden, Houston Rockets make easy work of Jazz in Game 1

James Harden put up 41 points in the Rockets’ 110-96 win over the Utah Jazz on Sunday afternoon in Houston. (Getty Images)

James Harden dropped 44 points in Houston’s Game 1 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and has been a dominant force for the Rockets ever since.

Now, after winning the opening series 4-1 and advancing to the Western Conference semifinals, things are no different.

Harden dropped 41 points in a performance reminiscent of his opening playoff game this season on Sunday afternoon at the Toyota Center in Houston, leading the Rockets to a 110-96 win over the Utah Jazz in Game 1.

The Jazz, fresh off a 4-2 series win against the Thunder, simply couldn’t keep up with the Rockets on Sunday. Utah’s only leads of the game — both just a two point advantage — came in the opening minutes of the contest.

By the end of the first quarter, they had fallen into a 13 point hole. Just before halftime, the Rockets had pushed that lead to 27. Thanks to an 11-2 run to end the half, and shooting 10-of-16 from the 3-point line, the Rockets were in complete control.

While the Jazz cut the lead to just 13 points with just more than three minutes left in the game, Harden’s 13 points in the final 12 minutes kept Utah at bay.

Harden’s 41 points marked his sixth 40-point playoff game in his career. He went 7-of-12 from behind the arc, reached the free throw line 11 times and added eight assists in his 36 minutes on the court.

Chris Paul added 17 points for the Rockets, shooting 50 percent from the field. Clint Capela and PJ Tucker finished with 16 and 15 points, respectively.

Donovan Mitchell and Jae Crowder each finished with 21 points for the Jazz on Sunday.

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