The Houston Rockets finally played some good defense, but they simply couldn’t hit a shot, finishing the night at 39 percent from the field, as they fell to 1-3 on the year with a 100-89 loss at home to the Utah Jazz.
Worst of all, the Rockets, who are already struggling with injuries up and down the roster, also lost James Harden tonight to a balky hamstring. The Beard led the Rockets with 29 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists, and his pinpoint pass to Clint Capela got the Rockets to within 7 points with 5:30 left in the game, only to watch him check out of the contest moments later and head to the locker room.
When Harden left, he took any hopes of a Houston victory with him, as the Rockets quickly went down 16 before settling on the final 11-point deficit.
In addition to Harden, the Rockets also got a big night from Carmelo Anthony, who played his best game in a Houston uniform. Melo finished with 22 points and 7 rebounds on 9-17 from the field, and he played some good defense at times and kept the Rockets alive in the early fourth quarter when Harden was resting.
They also got 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks from Clint Capela, but he was invisible for long stretches until scoring 6 straight points in the fourth quarter and finally showing flashes of the Capela we expected.
No other Rocket finished in double figures, and in addition to the 39-percent shooting, they were also only 11-40 from beyond the arc. Eric Gordon, in particular, was bad from three, going just 1-12 from deep, hitting his only triple with 35 seconds left and the game already decided. Gerald Green was 1-5 from three, P.J. Tucker 2-7, and Michael Carter-Williams, who drew the start, was 1-4 from deep. The Rockets also turned the ball over 15 times.
There were some positives in the game, however. Houston’s switching defense, though not perfect, looked significantly more in sync tonight. They held the Jazz to 43 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers, and it would have been more than enough had they been able to hit a shot.
Utah was led by Donovan Mitchell, who went off for 38 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists, and they also got 12 points, 13 boards, and 3 blocks from Rudy Gobert, and 11 points from Joe Ingles.
The Rockets now have to lick their wounds and and regroup for a rematch on Friday with the Los Angeles Clippers. Thankfully, Chris Paul will be returning, because The Beard’s status is currently up in the air. For a team desperately trying to build some chemistry, the lineup shuffling sure isn’t helping. Let’s hope Harden’s injury isn’t too serious and the Rockets can build off of a solid defensive performance and hit some shots on Friday.