The Jazz crumbled in a close game down the stretch to lose at Houston 101-85. Utah (15-15) allowed the Rockets (18-14) to shoot 51 percent from the field, including a 10-for-19 effort from distance, while the Jazz shot just 40 percent from the floor to lose for the eighth time in 11 outings.
Guards: The starting backcourt of Devin Harris and Raja Bell combined for 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Harris had four assists and three steals but committed five turnovers in his 26 minutes. Harris and Earl Watson defended Kyle Lowry as well as anyone this side of Kyle Korver, letting the Villanova product score 32 points and dish nine assists, with just one turnover. Watson was more awful on the offensive end, going scoreless while shooting 0 for 7, with one assist in 25 minutes. Grade: D+
Forwards: Paul Millsap had a fine offensive game, going 8-16 from the field with 22 points. However, he grabbed just four rebounds and was largely responsible for allowing Luis Scola to get 26 (on 12-20 shooting) and nine. Gordon Hayward was largely a nonfactor in 21 minutes, scoring four points on 1-for-4 shooting, though he did provide four assists and three rebounds. Grade: C-
Centers: Al Jefferson put up big numbers with 23 points and 11 rebounds in 34 minutes. He also helped keep Houston forward Patrick Patterson relatively quiet, as the 6-foot-9 starting post scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds. Jefferson's play reflected that which he gave the team in its 114-100 win over Washington on Friday night. Grade: A-
Bench: Outside of Watson's struggles, C.J. Miles continued his shooting slump as of late, scoring three points in a 1-5 effort in 22 minutes. While Miles broke his streak of playing five games of less than 20 minutes, his play Sunday night means that he has now scored 15 points on 4-for-22 shooting in the past six contests. Hot-of-late Alec Burks shot 0-3 in 10 minutes. The highlight was Enes Kanter, who scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds in 12 minutes as the Jazz were outscored 17-16 by their Houston reserve counterparts. Grade: D
Overall: Once again, it just wasn't a pretty road game for the Jazz, who were outscored 56-39 in the second half after holding on to a slim halftime lead. Nothing was coherent on offense after intermission and especially at the game's end, when Utah trailed by just six at 88-82 with more than three minutes remaining. Despite it being a home game, the test won't get any easier with San Antonio (22-9) up next.
Rhett Wilkinson is a journalism and organizational communication major at Utah State University. He has previously been an intern for the Deseret News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Twitter: wilklogan