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Short-handed Rockets fall 124-116 to Jazz

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Houston didn’t have enough to take down Utah.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets fall on the second half of a back-to-back 124-116 to the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

The Rockets’ first quarter was all about perseverance and patience. Which is great because it was all they had after the Jazz went up as much as 15 with seven minutes left in the first.

That didn’t matter much, as the Rockets went on a 16-2 run to get back in the game and eventually gain the lead. Of course, the Jazz wouldn’t go away easily, and the first 12 minutes ended in a tie, 32-32.

Houston got back into the game with some great three-point shooting, 6-of-12 from deep. Kenyon Martin Jr. led the way in scoring, knocking down both of his attempts from three for 10 total points and four rebounds. DaQuan Jeffries stepped up for the undermanned Rockets with eight points on 3-5 shooting, 2-4 from deep. Khyri Thomas might have had only two points in the quarter, but he definitely had the best sequence of the first — AND on his birthday.

The second quarter would go a little different for both teams, but that was expected as the Rockets continue to play without any of their big names, and the Jazz are one of the top teams in the West.

Houston followed up their excellent first-quarter shooting with a subpar 4-12 from deep. Utah shot only 6-16 from behind the arc in the half, but they shot a smooth 22-44 from the field and dominated at the free-throw line, 12-13. The Rockets, on the other hand, didn’t even see the line until the second quarter.

K.J. Martin stayed white-hot from the field, scoring 16 points and five rebounds on 6-9 shooting, 3-4 from deep at the half. Jeffries, Thomas, and Armoni Brooks all had 10 points on a combined 12-22 from the field.

Khyri continued his excellent playmaking abilities on both ends in the second.

And K.J. gave us a patented monster jam.

The Rockets went into the half down 66-60.

And, as these things go, the Rockets, without their primary rotational players and playing with a bunch of youngsters and guys who have seen no real NBA playing time, didn’t stand a chance against the Jazz. Utah got their lead up to as much as 19 in the third, and there was no looking back. Houston got close to possibly getting back into the game with some great individual efforts, but it would be just effort.

I’m also gonna say it doesn’t matter cause we got this absolute BANGER of a player from DaQuan Jeffries.

How can you not love the premier defensive center in the league getting mashed on by an undrafted player who was picked up off waivers last month?

Some stats for you: Utah scorched Houston from three on 15-38 shooting for 39.5%, and from the free-throw line, 19-21 from 90.5%. The Rockets had 11 steals, five of them coming from the birthday boy, Khyri Thomas. Houston had an impressive 28 fast break points to only 10 Utah fast break points.

One again, K.J. Martin made the most of his opportunity, scoring 27 points and 10 rebounds on a highly efficient 11-19 from the field, 4-8 from deep. Thomas had himself a great birthday with 27 points, 5 rebounds, and the aforementioned five steals. Jeffries has 17 points, seven rebounds, and five points. Jae’Sean Tate flirted with a triple-double with 13 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds.

Houston will continue on their four-game Westcoast road trip on Monday when they face the Portland Trailblazers. Yes, that’s another 9 o’clock game.