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Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz game preview

The Rockets will try to avoid a letdown tonight in Utah after knocking off the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Rockets will head to Utah, home of the Jazz. This marks the second and last trip to Salt Lake City, as these teams will only meet three times this season. The final matchup will be in March at the Toyota Center.

The first time these teams met, the Jazz raced to a first half lead, but the Rockets came storming back and won behind Chandler Parsons' game high 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists.

That's been the story of the Jazz so far this season, and it's why I've dubbed them the sneakiest tankers of the season. They usually hang with teams in the first half, oftentimes going into the break with a lead. But they always seem to "collapse" in the second half in order to get the loss. The Jazz have wins against the Hornets, the Rose-less Bulls (in OT at home), and their most recent game-a win in Phoenix.

As a Rockets fan, there is a part of me that always enjoys the Jazz losing. But I liked it more when they got the 14th pick and 9th in the West. We all know what that position is like, and it sucks. Seeing the Rockets spin their wheels for three seasons was difficult, but with a great GM and some luck the Rockets have gotten out of that position. It would be nice (again, as the Jazz-hating Rockets fan that I am) to see the Jazz in a similar position.

At this point, I'm sure they'll get one of the top 5 picks, and each one of those could be a stud player, assuming they all come out. I don't want to see Wiggins or Parker on the Jazz.

Also, for three years when the Rockets were the 14th worst team all I heard was, "The Rockets won't be good until they get a star player." I got so tired of hearing it. I know the Jazz have a lot of problems (ahem Ty Corbin), but I want to hear people complaining about their lack of star power.

SB Nation gets mad when we use other photos, so I can't post the Korver picture here. I'm sure it will show up in the comments.

And, always this:

James Harden's vicious slam on Utah! (via clutchfansDOTnet)

One more note that I'm putting in here at the request of my brother: the Spurs and Blazers are tied at 14-3 for first place in the Western Conference (the Blazers beat the Spurs early in PDX so technically they're first but you know what I mean). Both teams only have one home loss. Both were courtesy of the same team.

The Houston Rockets.

Tip off is at 8pm CST


Point Guard: Patrick Beverley vs. Trey Burke

The Rockets haven't faced Burke yet since he's only played in six games, but the Rookie of the Year hopeful went for 20p/6r/3a/2stl his last time out and certainly killed it at Michigan. I'm interested to see this matchup tonight.

Advantage: Rockets

Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Gordon Hayward

You probably remember that I really like Hayward's game. I see him as a poor man's Parsons, and that's a compliment not an insult. He's the engine behind the Jazz and when he plays well, the Jazz usually play well.

Advantage: Rockets

Small Forward: Chandler Parsons vs. Richard Jefferson

This is assuming that Parsons plays. I think a lot of that also depends on Garcia's injury. If both sit, we'll see plenty of Casspi here and probably some D-Mo and Brewer.

Hopefully, the spasms can quiet down enough for Parsons to play. They were bothering him before the dunk, too. In the timeout before, you could see Keith Jones trying to stretch Parsons' back outside the huddle.

Advantage: Rockets

Power Forward: Terrence Jones vs. Marvin Williams

Jones is playing the way that Atlanta hoped Williams would when they drafted him out of North Carolina. As it is, Williams has had a pretty average career. Instead of having him play the SF like he has most of his career, the Jazz have used him as a stretch 4, and it's working. He's shooting the ball better from three and overall this season. So you can't leave him open.

Advantage: Rockets

Center: Dwight Howard vs. Derrick Favors

Favors is an interesting young talent, and I can't wait to see how he develops. He's averaging 13/10 this season.

What I've really liked about Howard so far is that he hasn't whined about touches or complained about minutes. It appears that he's content to average anything as long as it means that the Rockets get the wins. Every team faces a slump or big losing streak at least once in the season. We'll learn a lot about Howard's dedication to this team when the Rockets face one of those.

Advantage: Rockets


Rockets: Francisco Garcia , Omri Casspi, Aaron Brooks, Omer Asik

Jazz: Jeremy Evans, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, Diante Garrett

Advantage: Rockets

Prediction: I'm terrified of the letdown, but Rockets 108-99.

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SLC Dunk