Despite trailing by 8 points in the fourth quarter the Houston Rockets exploded for 41 in the final frame to dispatch a gritty Utah team who ran out of defensive answers for a superior offense.
While the NBA has zigged its way to a faster pace and increased three point shooting the Utah Jazz have spent years successfully zagging their way to a three point denying defense and half court offense. Utah got neither in the fourth when Houston went for a 15-0 run. Followed by a 11-0 run. Followed by a 21 point win.
In the final frame the Rockets shot 8 of 12 from three and outscoring the Jazz 41-15.
Eric Gordon set a season-high with 33 points. Clint Capela shot 10-12 from the floor with 24 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. Meanwhile James Harden piled a pedestrian 26-6-6. This line is so common right now that the expectation will likely cost Harden the MVP award... again.
Newly minted Western Conference player of the week Chris Paul was also in the building...
Jazz guard Rodney Hood is close to achieving “Rocket Killer” status. If the Jazz were to beat the Rockets more commonly he’d have it, Hood scored 26 off the bench while averaging 17 points a game. Last year he averaged 12.7 on the year and tallied 25, 19 and 19 against the Rockets.
Ryan Anderson did not score in 19 minutes.
Ryan Anderson did not score in his last game over 23 minutes.
The power forward only took six shots over his last two games but his disappearing act has come with consequence. Anderson started the second half on the bench and came in with the “second unit” playing center.
Anderson is still shooting 40% from three on the season, but the Rockets need him to express confidence. The biggest concern for Rockets fans is that Anderson’s increased defensive intensity and rebounding has worn him out with more than 2/3rds of a season to go.
Why was second unit in quotes two paragraphs ago?
Head coach Mike D’Antoni doubled down on the guys he trusts with a seven man rotation tonight to compensate for the injury to Luc Mbah a Moute. Tarik Black logged just three minutes.
Meanwhile James Harden did some history.
With his drive and dunk, Harden has 21 points and at least 20 in Rockets first 29 games. Only Harden, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James had at least 20 of 1st 29 games since 63-64.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 19, 2017