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Houston Rockets 125, Utah Jazz 80: Your Houston Rockets led by 50 points.

I do believe that it should be mentioned again.  The Houston Rockets went into Salt Lake City in a game with major playoff race implications, and for seven seconds, managed to lead by 50 points.  Unfortunately, Alec Burks made a layup and Kevin Murphy made a 3-pointer, so Houston had to settle for winning by 45 points and handing the Jazz its worst defeat in Utah ever.  So it goes.

This was an amazing, ludicrous, and utterly stupefying game.  Yes, the Jazz were injured and Houston has had the good luck of remaining healthy.  Gordon Hayward and Mo Williams sat out this game and their presence was sorely missed by Utah.  But not more than two weeks ago, the Rockets went to Target Center, battled a Minnesota team that has been all but knocked out of the playoff race purely due to injuries, and were humiliated by Chris Johnson and former Jazz Andrei Kirilenko.  To turn around and blow out three teams that had all performed very well before they met Houston in New Orleans, Brooklyn and Utah really shows something about the resiliency of this young team.

From the very beginning, there were plenty of reasons to feel confident about the outcome of this game.  Without Hayward and Mo Williams, the Jazz’s plan relied heavily on production from Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson in the low block.  But Asik and Patterson both worked to neutralize their opponents, and Jeremy Lin repeatedly left an old and ineffective Jamaal Tinsley to double team and harass the two bigs whenever they achieved a modicum of success.  Even without factoring Al Jefferson’s well-known black hole tendencies, the Jazz without the presence of Hayward and Williams simply did not have the spacing to counter the relentless hounding of the Jazz players whenever they tried anything in the paint.  Utah did make a slight run late in the first quarter when Greg Smith came in for Asik (it should be noted that Smith was the only Rockets player who had an ineffective game tonight, as his athletic offensive game was countered by the athletic defensive game of Derrick Favors and he suffered from his usual defensive lapses), but then the Houston offense went to work.

From there, pretty much everything went right for Houston, and everything went wrong for the Jazz.  Houston went into the lane at will as Al Jefferson all but lifted them up and escorted Parsons, Harden, and Lin to the rim, Patterson’s jumper returned, Delfino hit his first 4 3-pointers, and Utah’s bigs remained ineffective.  Jazz coach Ty Corbin really made no effort to adjust to this problem and thus the lead swelled from 18 at the half to 34 at the end of the 3rd to that ridiculous 50 point mark with 27 seconds left in the game, an achievement which after a long series of boos starting in the second quarter, the remaining Utah fans seemed to be cheering for in a peculiar variation of Stockholm syndrome.

  • It’s utterly obvious that James Harden is the best player on the Rockets, but in a way one could argue that Omer Asik has been the most important player for Houston this season.  Asik has surpassed every expectation I had of him when the Rockets inked that $25 million deal and as stated earlier, and tonight completely shut down Al Jefferson tonight while grabbing 19 rebounds in the process.  Houston’s big men outside of Asik all suffer from various problems in their defense whether it is size or a lack of good instincts or fundamentals, making the starting center’s skillset all the more valuable.
  • An absolutely amazing dunk from James Harden, courtesy of Clutchfans  It should be noted among the minor negatives of this game that Harden could not hit a jumper tonight, though with the lack of defense from the Utah bigs there was no need to as he repeatedly went into the paint and instead made several difficult shots at the rim.  25 points on 15 shots, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and no turnovers.
  • Speaking of turnovers, Houston only had 5 turnovers in this game and absolutely none in the second half.  Much of that can be attributed simply because the amount of bounce passes thrown at Mr. Asik’s feet decreased by quite a bit today.  While Houston’s fast pace makes a high turnover rate an inevitability and other excellent teams such as the Thunder also turn it off, Houston’s half-court offensive weaknesses mean that they truly cannot afford to waste turnovers on poor passing or traveling calls.

What a game.  That’s really all that can be said.  With the Lakers starting to finally awake, it’s all the better to win crucial games like this against a tough team on the road.  Now the Rockets will take on an even better opponent at their home in the Mile High City on Wednesday.

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About the author: Write for a living, though not in sports. Been following the Rockets my whole life, with Stockton’s shot being my first memory. Consequently traumatized.

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  • Paradise says 1 YEAR ago The fact that this was against the Jazz made the win so much sweeter, and being part of their bad records... Now that's just the icing on the cake.
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago

    phaketrash, on 30 January 2013 - 00:42 AM said:

    But ST, how much of that was also due to a lapse in Corbin's judgment? He never really adjusted anything last night, did he?

    There was one thing I did notice him try - he inserted Burks at the beginning of the second half in a PG-ish role to try and provide a bit more of a threat from that position. Didn't really work though. You're right that Corbin could have been a bit more inventive on the other side of the ball, but I don't think that should detract from the coaching staff's credit. Many times you see teams go away from what's working illogically, but here they trusted their strategy even after the Jazz started out hitting on the threes and it paid large dividends.

  • datruth says 1 YEAR ago fellingsupersonic, good point
    As i said before 3 wins is 3 wins. I hope Mchale gets it together. Young teams have their up and downs, but the leader should be consistent. The leader sets the pace.
  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago Ultimately, this team will succeed when McHale and Sampson figure how to tweak the defensive game plan to each opponent and the players buy in. I see McHale as an excellent motivator which is very crucial at this stage. McHale and his staff must motivate and convince these young guys that defense is what will lead to better offense and make them a better team. Forget half court sets and X's and O's because that is not where this team finds itself, this is culture building right now.
  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago you know, i was mulling this the whole time. how much praise does mchale deserve? how much blame? we have to always be wary of giving praise that isn't deserved (something any coach would have done), but also be careful not to give unwarranted criticism. it'd be unfair if every mistake is mchale's fault, but every boon just luck or expected of any coach. that'd be an impossible standard to meet. the reverse would be unfair as well, in the sense that he'd be judged too favorably.
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago I love beating utah period. we can never pile on to much for me. they may not be the utah of old, but they are still utah. I have to disagree with those who want to throw praise on mc hale for the win. he didn't make any decisions that were rocket science, granted he didn't put his foot in his mouth either. there was no need for a bunch of coaching because the jazz couldn't buy a shot with all the gold in fort knox.
  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago McHale or not, we have to give credit to the players for not settling at any time with a comfortable lead. They kept going with the momentum and that must be a huge confident boost for the team as a whole, let's hope they can translate it into better chemistry, great plays, and of course, if possible, more wins.
  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago But ST, how much of that was also due to a lapse in Corbin's judgment? He never really adjusted anything last night, did he?
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago Got to give the coaching staff a big pat on the back for this one. The game plan of using Lin as a hard double whenever Jefferson touched the ball in the post was inspired. Really destroyed the Jazz's rhythm given the lack of scoring elsewhere on the court, and you could see right from the start that unless Utah could keep hitting three pointers (IIRC they started 3 of 4) they were going to be toast. People seem to like to slam McHale's coaching acumen from time to time, but he thoroughly out-coached Corbin tonight. A lot of the time when a coach prepares a nuance like that they'll only throw it out there once or twice, but McHale just said "we'll do it until you demonstrate you can beat us consistently", and the Jazz never did.

    Also, was it just me or was the crowd really quiet right from the beginning of that game (I mean, it makes sense that they were quiet at the end...)? Maybe the nearby weather had something to do with it, but over the telecast it didn't feel like the oppressive atmosphere I'd usually associate with SLC.

  • bboley24 says 1 YEAR ago Im right there CHichos.... I don't think anyone outside of the Rockets front office and diehard fans realize the hatred for Utah. I still have nightmares of stockton knocking down that three.
  • Chichos says 1 YEAR ago Oh it is so sweet to beat the Jazz, I hated the Malone stockton tandem, and the Williams Boozer tandem, and now i hate the... well whoever is playing for the Jazz now.
  • datruth says 1 YEAR ago Great game for the rockets. Mchale needs to stay with what is winning. No need to start changing things. This team is better when Lin is at the point. Harden will get his chances within the flow of the game to play the point, but I like the ball movement when Lin is handling the ball. Harden seems to hold the ball longer and it slows the offense down. The Jazz is a good team at home. Again, I said it before this team has a lot of talent, but Mchale must allow them to play.
  • tombrokeoff says 1 YEAR ago Didnt see it :( but love it none the less!!
  • Red94 says 1 YEAR ago New post: Houston Rockets 125, Utah Jazz 80: Your Houston Rockets led by 50 points.
  • bboley24 says 1 YEAR ago You bet that was sweetness. I liked the graphic 7 times seeing us in the playoffs... you best realize they'll be ready for us next time.
  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago It was a great one Ale! Agreed as well on Motie except for that first shot he had which looked pretty bad but was probably due to nervous energy.
  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago Totally worth staying up that late to watch the game :D
  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago Don't really understand the Lin playing point comment because I saw Harden initiate offense as well as Parsons while Lin parked it out on the three point line. I agree with something the Jazz play by play and color guy spoke about. They said when the Rockets get the ball up court quickly the defense is not set and Rockets set their picks, start rolling and create space so that the defense never has a chance and that was executed perfectly tonight. When the Rockets are pushing the ball up court quickly it doesn't matter who pushes the ball up, what matters is that they space properly and it helps when they are knocking the three's down of course.
  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago 45 points!!!!! biggest home loss in franchise history for Utah! bboley, you must be excited, huh?

    The best part, for me, besides the great win, was to see Motie play good minutes :D

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago When Lin plays the point, the Rockets win. Not really sure what the experiment was about with Harden running the point during the losing streak.
  • thenit says 1 YEAR ago I know great game, everything is flowing and the starters can just sit down and enjoy the 4th. Even Anderson is coming on with 8 minutes to go, first time he gets more than a minute in a rockets uniform. Even Lin hit a three and the 4s are 11-18 as I am writing this. Morris 4-6 beyond the arc. And big O has 19 rebounds. I hope he keeps it up and get the rebounding title.
  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago The Rockets are up by 34 points with one quarter to go. The Rockets offense is being executed perfectly especially since the defensive effort is there. Fast break points advantage Rockets 26 to 2 right now.
  • bboley24 says 1 YEAR ago GET PSYCHED!

    If you are a true Rockets fan, you understand that regardless of present situations and/or squads, Utah is the devil. They are the Challenger/Columbia to our Rockets.

    Our LA to our BOS

    Our Tonya to our Nancy Kerrigan!!

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