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Chris Paul’s double-double propels Rockets over Jazz

Eight straight for the Rockets.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Paul had arguably his best game as a Rocket Thursday night as the Rockets downed the Utah Jazz for the second time this season, 112-101.

Houston improved to 9-0 with CP3 in the lineup and won their eighth consecutive game, the second-longest streak in the NBA. The Rockets continue to cement their status as one of the league’s elite and are building a strong case as the NBA’s best.

CP3 was one rebound shy of a triple-double with nine rebounds as he dished out 13 assists and scored 18 points. However, CP3 was the third leading scorer for Houston against Utah. To nobody’s surprise, James Harden led all scorers with 29. However, to some people’s amazement, Ryan Anderson had a very nice shooting night with 23 points on 9-11 shooting. Anderson made his first eight shots from the field and sunk five of his six attempts from deep.

This game was a contrast of styles: 7 Seconds or Less vs. Lockdown Defense. Houston entered the game as the second-highest scoring offense, eclipsing 114 PPG, while Utah entered the game as the fourth-best defense, allowing 99.3 PPG.

The game in the first half was characterized by stout defense. With three minutes left in the second quarter, the Rockets led 39-36. If the score was read to a casual Rockets fan, the fan would have probably thought that the game was approaching the end of the first quarter or the early stages of the second quarter.

Houston then zoomed to 12 quick points before the half ended, nine points coming from The Beard, and this was when Houston took control of the game. Utah did a good job in the first half of forcing Houston to play their game.

However, the Houston scoring sequence at the end of the first half shifted momentum in the game and the Rockets could play more of their style. Houston only took a five point lead into halftime, 51-46, but a 10-1 run capped by a Harden four-point play pushed the Rockets lead to double figures and Houston never looked back. The lead jumped out to as much as 25 in the early parts of the fourth quarter, where it was clear that the Rockets were going to win the game at that point.

Houston’s win tonight had a lot to do with their incredible 37-point third quarter, where the volume of their three-point makes began to rise. When a team makes 18 threes, it’s hard to lose. The Rockets are by no means the best scoring team, but the system Mike D’Antoni has in place for them makes it very difficult for the team to lose. There’s a reason why the Rockets have only lost once since Halloween and Houston has become one of those teams that can only lose if the opponent has a flawless game and the Rockets have an incredibly off game. It reminds me a lot of the Warriors, and at this point in the season, it’s a fantastic sign of the team’s progress.

For the Jazz, Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 26. He’s only a rookie but plays like he has been in the league for ten years. He could honestly be the biggest mid-first round steal since Kawhi Leonard. I think he has the ability to be incredible for the Jazz, and that’s bad for the rest of the league. Mitchell was one of five players in double figures, while Alec Burks (17), Thabo Sefolosha (14), Ricky Rubio (11), and Joe Ingles (11) joined him.

Tonight was another sign of just how good this team could be. The Rockets can go from 0 to 100 real quick and teams will need to learn how to keep up. Few can keep up with them, if any at all. And man, these guys are fun to watch!

The next chance to watch the Rockets comes Saturday as they close out the mini road trip in Portland to take on the Trail Blazers. Tipoff is at 9 PM CT.