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Rockets vs. Jazz game preview: Utah is out for blood

NBA: Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

I thought the Utah Jazz would be the first seed in the West last season. I loved the trade for Mike Conley (egregiously large contract and all) and the pickup of Bogdan Bogdanovic. I figured that Conley’s leadership and Bogdanovic’s shot-making would make the Jazz a complete team that would cruise through the regular season.

I was a year off.

Utah currently sits two games ahead of the Phoenix Suns for first place in the West and have looked like the best team in the league this season. The Jazz sent three players to the All-Star Game (you can argue Conley’s inclusion merit but as an injury replacement, I wouldn’t argue it too hard).

The Rockets have lost 14 straight games and it will certainly be 15 after tonight. PJ Tucker wants out, but Rafael Stone won’t trade him for peanuts. The Rockets will try to get a first round pick in the transaction, but a couple of second rounders or a young player with some promise is more likely.

My real prediction for tonight, and all games moving forward, is that the Rockets will hang with teams in the first quarter, but will fall well behind in the second quarter when Houston’s lack of NBA talent on their bench becomes apparent. It’s a sad truth, and Christian Wood’s return is unlikely to change that outcome.

Tip-off is at 9pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest