The Leopard

The Western Conference Semifinals

Mason Thomas, Sports Head Editor

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The Houston Rockets hosted the Utah Jazz for game 1 in the second round. The Rockets blew out the Jazz with a 110-96 win. James Harden and Chris Paul combined for 58 points throughout the game to set the tone for the rest of the series. The hopeful Rookie of the Year candidate, Donovan Mitchell, shocked the crowd by going off for 21 points while being guarded by possible MVP of the 2018 season, James Harden. Game two of this series, the Rockets looked to defend their homecourt, which would allow them to leave the arena with a commanding 2-0 lead in the series. The Jazz took a surprising early lead which lasted into the end of the first half. Harden then controlled the 3rd quarter by out-scoring the Jazz. With the help from Joe Ingles and his amazing 27 point career high performance, they were able to even the series. Game 3 came and the Jazz had high hopes looking to take a lead on the series with the advantage of having two home games ahead of them. Throughout the game, the Rockets dominated both sides of the floor having a 30 point lead at half. The pace of the Rockets started to slow down after half and the lead was shortened as the Jazz out scored the Rockets in the 3rd and 4th quarter. The Jazz couldn’t close the game in the final minutes of the game, which set the Rockets on top of the series. After a big lost in game three, the Jazz looked to turn it around for game 4 of the series. Game 4 started out the same as game 3 for the Rockets, They controlled the ball on both ends of the court. Throughout the game the Jazz never gained the lead. With this loss, it put the Rockets on top: 3-1. The Utah Jazz were facing elimination in game 5, which meant it was a must win. The first half, the Jazz started out weak, and was out scored by the Rockets. The 3rd quarter was a different story for the Jazz, they scored 32 points while the Rockets were held to only 21. With the Jazz only a few points ahead, at the start of the 4th the Rockets began and ended the quarter strong by scoring 37 points to close up the game and series. Chris Paul led the Rockets by scoring 41 points throughout the game and making it his first appearance in the Conference Championship.
The other Western Semi final matchup was between the New Orlean Pelicans and the defending champs, Golden State Warriors. In the previous round the Warriors defeated the Trail Blazers 3-1 without All-Star point guard Stephen Curry to help them. The first quarter of this game was a very close one, with the Warriors on top 35-34. The second quarter, the Warriors ran away with the lead by scoring 41 points in the last 12 minutes of the half. The Warriors kept the same pace for the rest of the game, putting them on top of the series 1-0. Stephen Curry finally came back from his injury and made his appearance for game two. He scored 28 points which led the Warriors over the Pelicans in game 2. Game 3 was in New Orleans and the Pelicans were looking to prevent a 3-0 series. The Pelicans started out the game strong and kept the lead until the end of game three. Anthony Davis led the Pelicans by getting a double-double to only make them down 2-1. The Warriors came back from game 3 and dominated them by 30 points, with Kevin Durant scoring 38 on them. Game 5, which was in Oakland, was the elimination game for New Orleans. The Warriors held a strong lead throughout the game putting them on top and eliminating the Pelicans. With this win it puts them to meet the Houston Rockets in the Conference Finals.

2018 NBA Playoffs

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The Western Conference Semifinals