The Rockets were on their way to a come-from-behind stunner after P.J. Tucker buried the go-ahead corner three in one of the most clutch moments of the season.
But then, Bojan Bogdanovic raised the bar with a dagger at the buzzer in perhaps the most crushing loss for the Rockets this season.
The play was well-defended. Bogdanovic came off the wide screen and was met with Tucker and James Harden smothering him, but Bogdanovic sunk the three. Major onions.
But how did we get to this point? Let’s rewind:
The Rockets started this game with the tough task to stifle the Stifle Tower in Rudy Gobert and they did just that by attacking Gobert with a driving Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook was off to a hot start with 17 first-quarter points, which gave the Rockets an eight point lead after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Jazz tightened the gap and went into the half with just a four-point deficit.
In the third quarter, the Rockets kept the Jazz at bay until the end of the quarter when Jordan Clarkson led a run that brought the Jazz to an 81-81 tie.
The Rockets went cold, scoring just 10 points in the final six minutes of the quarter.
In the fourth, Clarkson’s scoring barrage continued with nine more points in the first six minutes.
Clarkson ended the game with a team-high 30.
The Jazz ultimately went on a 9-0 run spanning three minutes to take a 107-100 lead.
The Rockets would then pull off a 10-2 run of their own, culminating with a Robert Covington three to give Houston the lead.
With 28 seconds to go, Donovan Mitchell drew a foul on the ensuing possession and drained both free throws to retake the lead.
Mike D’Antoni opted not to call a timeout and allow the Rockets to drive in transition. The possession ended with a cold-blooded three from Tucker.
PJ TUCKER THREE GIVES THE ROCKETS THE LEAD— Ball Realm (@TheBallRealm) February 10, 2020
And then Bogdanovic takes it from there.
The Rockets will once again be criticized for their polarizing style of offense in this game, but there isn’t too much the Rockets should be concerned with after this one.
They played one of the best teams in the league without Eric Gordon, who was out with a leg injury.
If anything, the defense is the main concern for me after this one, and it isn’t enough to warrant a push of a panic button.
The defense on Gobert was great and their gameplan for him was effective. Gobert scored just 12 points on 3-6 shooting.
The team could not find an answer for Clarkson, who went on an insane run in the second half that you usually don’t see.
The Jazz looked very impressive today, and Bogdanovic’s buzzer beater is just one of those moments where you have to tip your cap. That shot goes in probably one out of 10 times. And this just happened to be that one time.
Obviously the loss is disappointing and significant. Instead of swapping seeds with the Jazz, the Rockets fall 1.5 games out of fourth and fail to clinch the tiebreaker in the season series.
They’ll get a chance to win that tiebreaker in two weeks when they travel to Salt Lake City after the All-Star Break.
In their final game before the All-Star Break, the Rockets host the Celtics Tuesday night. Tipoff is at 8:30 p.m. CT.