It took a few games and it wasn’t necessarily pretty, but the Houston Rockets finally entered the win column with their six point win over the Utah Jazz. Houston’s young trio of Kevin Porter Jr. (26 points and 10 rebounds), Jalen Green (25 on 4-8 from three point range) and Jabari Smith Jr. (21 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks) led the way as the team never trailed by more than one.
It was a rewarding win for a team that was shorthanded at the center spot as they were once again missing Bruno Fernando (ankle) and got a late scratch from Alperen Sengun (illness).
The Rockets managed to keep the score-by-committee Jazz to their lowest scoring total of the young season, even though Utah shot higher from the field. The Rockets gained an advantage at the charity stripe as they shot twice as many free throws than their counterparts (32-16). KPJ really set the tone early as he thrived in the lane, either hitting contested layups or forcing the refs to blow the whistle.
Another development from tonight’s game was Smith’s first start at center. He responded with his best performance so far, although he might have had even more opportunity to be aggressive if not for his own foul trouble. It’s encouraging to see that he can be a versatile option this early on. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Coach Silas start him at the five in other favorable matchups going forward.
While the victory should be celebrated, it did feel like there were still some unforced errors down the stretch that prevented the Rockets from pulling away from the scrappy Jazz. The offense stagnated when players reverted to isolation, which in turn made it easier for Utah to generate turnovers, contributing to easy fast break opportunities.
The offense will always be at it’s best when the ball is touching multiple hands on each possession like this beauty here:
There were some moments where the ball was flying all over the place as both teams made a mad scramble to secure possession, but it is refreshing to see that wonderful all-out energy that Tari Eason Jr. and Usman Garuba brought to the floor. The effort is always appreciated.
There’s other things to nitpick at, but a win is a win. Enjoy this victory Rockets fans, you all deserve it. Let’s see if we can pick back up where we left off and complete the mini-sweep this Wednesday in Utah!
America wins when Utah loses.— Vernon Maxwell (@VernonMaxwell11) June 17, 2021
As for the “spat” between Jabari and Jalen goes, we can only try to read lips to guess what they were arguing about. As long as it doesn't turn into a Draymond Green situation I think the kids will be alright. I too had the same reaction as Eric Gordon.