I can’t imagine many thought the Rockets would come into Salt Lake City and lay an egg, but that’s exactly what they did. Just a month ago the Rockets played in Utah and also struggled in the first half, however, the Rockets were able to make a comeback and avoid the upset early in the season. This time the Rockets weren’t as fortunate as the Utah Jazz shot 54% from the field en route to a 109-103 upset over the Houston Rockets.
Gordon Hayward scored 17 of his 29 points in the first quarter, to give the Jazz a 13 point lead in the first quarter. The Rockets were unable to stop any of the Jazz three guards throughout the game as they combined for 71 of the team’s 109 points. Trey Burke finished with 21 points and Alex Burks finished with another 21 points off the bench.
It was clear the Rockets were missing Chandler Parsons. Francisco Garcia is usually a pretty dependable defender but he was no match for Hayward who did an excellent job escaping Garcia with off the ball movement. Offensively, Garcia finished with 13 points (3 three’s), 6 rebounds, and 2 assists which is a bit less than Parson’s everyday numbers.
With Parsons out, it was James Harden who picked up the scoring slack, dropping 37 points on 12-22 shooting from the field, and a perfect 10-10 from the charity stripe. Harden finished just 3-9 from beyond the perimeter and added 8 assists on a night he looked like his old self on both ends of the court. Harden continues to struggle defensively in games he doesn’t “care” about, and it showed tonight with all three Jazz guards topping the 20-point mark.
Dwight Howard finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds. The Rockets elected to go with Omri Casspi (30 min) over Terrence Jones (18 min) for most of the game and it seemed to pay off as Jones registered a -14 and Casspi a +8 when on the court. Casspi and Aaron Brooks each chipped in 13 points off the bench in the loosing effort.
The Rockets head home to face the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night. Tipoff is at 7:00 PM and can be seen on CSN Houston.