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The Roundup—Jazz go cold in third, fall to Rockets in SLC
Houston shot a bunch of threes. Utah owned the paint.
In the end, though, the Jazz simply didn't have an answer for Houston's superstar duo of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, who combined for 72 points in the Rockets' 120-110 victory Saturday night in Salt Lake City.
The Rockets (36-20) won the season series 2-1 and will have the tiebreaker over the Jazz (36-20) in case the teams finish the regular season with the same record.
Utah shot 32-for-51 (62.7) percent in the paint but struggled elsewhere, while Houston scored 60 points from beyond the arc.
"We had good shooters with good looks and we didn't knock them down, which we have in the past," Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. "When you don't make shots, it impacts your defense. That said, in the third quarter we didn't have the same energy on defense. We didn't get deflections, only fouled once—which tells you about our aggressiveness."
Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 31 points—his 15th game with 30+ points this season—while Jordan Clarkson added 22 points off the bench. Mike Conley (13 points), Rudy Gobert (12 points) and Bojan Bogdanović (12 points) also scored in double figures in the loss.
The Jazz went on a 22-8 run in the first half and led by four at halftime, but the wheels came off after the break as Houston opened the third quarter on a 14-3 run and eventually led by as many as 16 points.
Utah pulled back within seven with just over two minutes left in the game—thanks to 16 fourth-quarter points by Mitchell—but Mitchell's step-back jumper rattled in and out and Harden immediately sank a 3-pointer on the other end to all but end Utah's comeback hopes.
Harden (38 points, seven assists, two steals) and Westbrook (34 points, six rebounds, four assists) led the way for the Rockets, who have won three straight and seven of their last nine games.
Saturday's Best: Jordan Clarkson
Clarkson provided a spark for the Jazz early on, scoring 16 points in his first 10 minutes as the Jazz turned an eight-point deficit into a six-point lead. He finished with 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting, and he added seven rebounds, one assist and one steal in 27 minutes. Clarkson is averaging 21.1 points over his last 10 games.
Spida's got 25pic.twitter.com/PnuJ14BrZF— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 23, 2020
Houston shot 20-for-48 from beyond the arc, with Harden (6-for-11) and Ben McLemore (4-for-4) leading the way. 52.2 percent of Houston's shots came from beyond the arc.
The Jazz, meanwhile, entered the night leading the NBA in 3-point percentage (38.7 percent on 13.1 made threes per game) but shot only 7-for-31 (22.6 percent) from deep against the Rockets. That snapped a franchise-record streak of 27 straight games with at least 10 threes made.
The Rockets shot 16-for-26 (61.5 percent), including 6-for-14 from three, in the third quarter as they outscored the Jazz 38-19. Utah shot 6-for-19 (31.6 percent) in the period.
Utah outscored Houston 64-36 in the paint. ... The Jazz only grabbed one steal, well below their season average of 5.8 per game. ... The game featured eight ties and 13 lead changes. ... Houston outscored Utah 19-10 in transition. ... McLemore and Eric Gordon scored 12 points each in the victory. ... Utah shot 19-for-24 (79.2 percent) from the free throw line. ... The Jazz are now 20-7 at home this season.
The Jazz will stay at home to host the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. Tipoff is set for 7:00pm MT.