DeRozan leads Spurs past Nuggets in Game 1, 101-96

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DeRozan leads Spurs past Nuggets in Game 1, 101-96

It's the second consecutive year the teams have met in the post-season after the Rockets eliminated Utah in five games in the second round last season.

Popovich won his 1,413th game Saturday at Denver to move past Lenny Wilkens on the all-time list.

Eric Gordon added 17 points and Clint Capela added a double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds). Defensively, Houston is giving up 109.1 points per game while opponents shoot 46.6 percent against them and they hold foes to only 34 percent shooting from 3-point land.

Reserve guard Austin Rivers raised some eyebrows after a March 28 rout of the Denver Nuggets when he declared that the Rockets would win a championship if they continued to play elite defense. It was the kind of dominant defensive performance that gives the Rockets, a historically elite offensive team, confidence that they are legitimate title contenders.

During the regular season, the Jazz averaged the fourth-most turnovers per game in the league at 15.1. The Jazz are 3-1-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings in Houston and 3-2-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings. The playoffs started with two upsets as the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers loss their home opener followed by the San Antonio Spurs going on the road and defeating the Denver Nuggets.

Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Jazz after not scoring more than 15 points in a game in the playoff series against the Rockets last season. He had 43 points and 12 rebounds in a 125-98 win at Utah on February 2 the last time the clubs met.

There's no questioning that the Rockets present a tough matchup for Utah.

Houston, one of the NBA's worst defensive teams during the first half of the season, has excelled on that end since the All-Star break.

The Utah Jazz strategy against the Houston Rockets' James Harden seems to be a conscious and deliberate effort in preventing his patented stepback jumpers and forcing him to go inside.

Derrick Favors has been one of the top post defenders in the National Basketball Association this season, but his health could be an issue in this series. "We're going to live with that", said Jokic.

The Rockets are putting up 113.9 points per game on offense while shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from the arc.

Houston's entire starting lineup had at least 10 points.

Who wins Jazz vs. Rockets? The Rockets are 53-29 on the season, 31-10 at home, 40-39-3 against the spread and 41-39-2 with the under.

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