The Rockets came into Utah looking to catch fire after having lost three of their last five games. However, their slump continued Thursday night, as they had no answer inside for Rudy Gobert or outside for Gordon Hayward in suffering a 109-91 blowout loss. They were dominated from the opening tip to the closing whistle, having never led and allowing the Jazz to impose their will.
Gobert had a career night at the expense of Donatas Motiejunas, Terrence Jones and Joey Dorsey, and Hayward thoroughly outplayed an obviously fatigued James Harden.
The Rockets came out sluggish from the start, looking every bit on the second half of a back-to-back, as they missed their first five shots and allowed the Jazz to jump out to a quick 7-0 lead. There were obvious dead legs for the boys in red, as shots clanged off the front of the rim and even caught nothing but air on a few occasions.
Gobert was in dominant form, scoring 10 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking two shots in the quarter. Derrick Favors also blocked two shots, and the Jazz scored 10 second chance points in grabbing a 28 - 23 lead at the end of the first. The Rockets were lucky to be that close.
The Rockets bench came out at the start of the second with some fire, led by Corey Brewer's athleticism and defense, combining with Josh Smith to get the Rockets within two points on a few occasions, but it quickly became more of the same once the Gobert/Favors front line re-entered the game.
The Rockets finished the first half down 53-43, allowing Gobert to put up a ridiculous line of 14 points, 18 rebounds and 3 blocks. Gobert's 11 offensive boards were two shy of Charles Barkley's NBA record for a half, set in 1987.
The Rockets 43 points also represented the 12th straight game the surging Jazz have held an opponent to under 45 points in the first half.
The Rockets made obvious adjustments at half time, electing to have Jones and Motiejunas go straight at Gobert in the post, as Dmo went three for thee to start the second half. But all momentum was quickly lost as Hayward caught fire from the outside, draining several threes and generally causing havoc for Houston defenders.
The Rockets were down 82-65 after three quarters, looking listless and dead.
Um... why bother?
Gobert finished with 19 points, 22 rebounds (12 offensive) and 4 blocks, Gordon Hayward finished with 29 points and 7 assists and Derrick Favors contributed 4 blocks for good measure, as the Rockets head back to Houston with their tail between their legs.
The Jazz front line absolutely dominated, outrebounding the Rockets 57-37, including 22-8 on the offensive boards, and their defense suffocated James Harden into a mere 15 points on 3-13 shooting, inlcuding 0-5 from three.
The Rockets shot a combined 7-32 from three-point land and were held to 43 percent overall shooting.
Corey Brewer led the Rockets with 25 points, and Terrence Jones put up a double-double on 11 points and 10 rebounds.
- Dwight Howard can't get back soon enough. Dmo and Jones had nothing for Gobert or Favors.
- Will Kevin McHale ever give Pablo Prigioni minutes? He played sparingly until the fourth quarter on a night Patrick Beverley and Jason Terry were both completely ineffective, combining for 12 points and 4 assists between them.
- Did Trevor Ariza even make the trip to Utah? You'd never know that he actually played 31 minutes tonight. His line: 4 points, 3 rebounds, and completely blitzed by Hayward.
- Did I mention Dwight Howard can't get back soon enough? Despite all that went wrong, this game was still close into the third quarter. Reinforcements may have helped.
- The Rockets have now lost four of their last six games going into the crucial home stretch. Falling to the sixth or even seventh seed is not out of the question.
- Spot on dud prediction by AK here. Share that crystal ball with the rest of us.
Please, get well soon, Dwight.