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The Roundup—Jazz 109, Rockets 91
By Matt Payne, utahjazz.com
The Jazz led from wire-to-wire, jumping out to a 22-10 lead and eventually putting a 109-91 beat down on the Houston Rockets Thursday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
The Jazz have won four straight games and are now 9-2 since the All-Star break.
Gordon Hayward, who returned after missing Tuesday’s game with a back injury, led all scorers with 29 points. He also dished out a game-high seven assists.
Rudy Gobert posted a monster double-double with 19 points (a new career high) and 22 rebounds. He added two assists and four blocks, and he went a perfect 3-for-3 from the line.
The Jazz also got big contributions from rookies Rodney Hood and Danté Exum, who both started and played 33 and 34 minutes, respectively. Hood scored a career-high 20 points and Exum scored 10 points (to go along with his usual stellar defense).
Corey Brewer came off the bench to lead Houston with 25 points in 32 minutes. MVP candidate James Harden scored only 15 points on 3-for-13 shooting (and 9-for-13 from the line) and had three of his shots blocked in the lane.
Gobert was in beast mode Thursday night, especially in the first half. He became the first player in the NBA this season to log a double-double by the end of the first quarter as he finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the first 12 minutes. Rudy had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half alone. And he set the NBA season high for rebounds in a half with 18 first-half boards.
The Jazz closed the first half on a 13-5 run, which included several highlight-reel plays.
In one three-possession sequence, Exum drilled a contested three (after Gobert tapped out the offensive rebound), Gobert took a pass from Hayward and absolutely posterized Terrence Jones with a thunderous one-handed slam, and then Hayward drove into the lane and converted an off-balance runner while being fouled. Hayward added two free throws with 0.2 seconds left to give Utah a 53-43 lead heading into the half.
The Jazz owned the glass, out-rebounding the Rockets 57-37. Most importantly, the Jazz grabbed 22 offensive rebounds (including 12 by Gobert), which led to 28 second-chance points. Houston scored only nine second-chance points.
Coach’s Quote of the Night
“I think our guys were just focused on helping each other—that’s what it really comes down to. ... Our bigs did an excellent job passing the ball, and our guards were just stronger. They weren’t in as much of a hurry and they kind of just let the game unfold. We were really much more poised on the offensive end.”
—Jazz head coach Quin Snyder
The Jazz went 11-for-33 from 3-point range. Five different Jazz players—Hayward (3-for-4), Hood (3-for-8), Exum (2-for-9), Ingles (2-for-4) and Booker (1-for-2)—made at least one 3-pointer.
Block of the Night
Early in the fourth quarter, with Houston trying to make a last-ditch run to get back in the game, Josh Smith drove into the lane and had his floater rejected by Gobert. Elijah Millsap took the ball on a fast break and dished it back to (who else?) Gobert for a two-handed slam. The most impressive thing was the Gobert had sprained his ankle just minutes before and had been hobbling around the court—and he still ran the floor for the slam. As a team, the Jazz blocked 10 shots.
Houston finished the game on a 6-0 run in garbage time to snap Utah’s streak of holding their opponent to fewer than 90 points at seven games. ... Jazz coach Quin Snyder picked up a technical foul late in the second quarter after a standing-still Exum was called for a blocking foul when he was bowled over by Harden in the lane. ... Trey Burke was scoreless in 22 minutes off the bench. He went 0-for-8 from the field after going 1-for-11 on Tuesday night.
The Jazz will stay at home for a game Saturday night against the Detroit Pistons. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MT and the game will be televised on ROOT SPORTS.