James Harden felt the Rockets’ failure to effectively deal with Derrick Favors was key in their Game 4 loss to the Jazz.
The Jazz came back into the first-round NBA playoff series at 3-1 after winning 107-91 on Monday, with Donovan Mitchell contributing 31 points.
But while Mitchell stole the headlines, Harden identified the towering presence of Favors as the Rockets’ real issue. He had 11 rebounds in 24 minutes.
“We went small in our lineup and Favors was getting his hands on the rebounds and tip outs and things like that,” Harden said.
“Whenever we do go small in that lineup, we need to make sure we put a body on him and get the rebound. That was the game. I think they got three offensive rebounds in a row.
“We played pretty good defense, but it’s just draining when you play good defense and give up offensive rebounds. We’ll be better individually and as a group and be ready.”
Headed back to H-Town for Game 5. pic.twitter.com/cqhQlhD8IK
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) April 23, 2019
The MVP candidate also felt Utah was motivated by a sense of “embarrassment” as it faced being swept on its home court.
“It’s tough, no matter who you’re playing,” Harden said. “This is one of the toughest places to play in the league.
“On the other side, it’s an embarrassment, you don’t want to get swept, you want to show that you have pride. So those guys came out and give them credit: they played well. They fought hard and they came away with the win.
“We got Game 3 and we get an opportunity to go home and do what we’re supposed to do.”