The Rockets had pounded the Jazz midsection, hitting hard with drive after drive to the gut.
They were doing just as they wanted, locking up the paint, grabbing rebounds and running the floor. As the Jazz fought to hold on until halftime, they were going weak in the knees but were within a manageable 16 points.
With that, the Rockets brought down the hammer.
James Harden, by then certain he could either get to the rim or force Utah to foul him on the way, did not want to leave the court with the Jazz standing. He let the clock run down before taking off. As the first half slipped to its final seconds, Harden reached back and pounded home a violent slam over Alec Burks as if trying to drive a railroad spike into concrete.
When Harden delivered a knockout-punch finish to the first half, the Jazz and their six-game home winning streak were finished, too. The Rockets spent the second half blasting the Jazz as thoroughly as Harden had the rim, running up a 50-point lead on the way to a 125-80 blowout, the most lopsided home loss in Jazz history and the Rockets' largest rout since a 50-point win at Philadelphia in 2007.
"To end the first half, it put an exclamation point on that half," said Harden, who had 25 points in his 28 minutes. "We played well in that first half. In the second half, we just kind of carried it over and played better. These last few games have been good for us.
"Guys are playing the right way, sharing the basketball, making easy basketball plays. It's tough to guard us like that."
Rockets give Jazz a Salt Lake licking 125-80
Houston Chronicle | Jan 29