Basketball: Utah Jazz hold off Houston Rockets to level NBA play-off second-round series at 1-1

PJ Tucker #4 of the Houston Rockets goes up for a lay up defended by Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz.
PJ Tucker #4 of the Houston Rockets goes up for a lay up defended by Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The Utah Jazz started strong then held their nerve to beat the top-seeded Houston Rockets 116-108 on Wednesday and level their NBA playoffs second-round series at one game apiece.

Forward Joe Ingles scored 27 points and star rookie Donovan Mitchell added 17 as Utah used a big fourth quarter to thwart a second-half comeback bid by superstar James Harden and the Rockets in Houston.

Ingles drained seven of nine three-point attempts, including two late in the fourth. Rookie star Donovan Mitchell's 17 points included an one-handed dunk of the rebound of his own missed shot - an emphatic jam that keyed Utah's 16-2 fourth-quarter scoring run.

Moments before, Donovan had forced Harden into a 24-second violation, just one solid defensive move from a Jazz team that held the vaunted Rockets offense to 24 percent shooting in the final period.

NBA scoring champion Harden scored 32 points with 11 assists and seven rebounds for the Rockets, who erased a 19-point first-half deficit to take a five-point lead in the third quarter.

Just when it looked like the potent Rockets had warmed up and might pull away, the Jazz responded and were up 86-85 heading into the final period.

The Rockets, who made 17 of 32 three-pointers in a 110-96 game-one romp, connected on just 10 of 37 from beyond the arc and were 38-for-95 from the field overall.

The Jazz, seeded fourth in the West, will try to grab the series lead when they host game three on Friday in Salt Lake City.