With 116 points, 55-percent shooting from 3-point range and 51-percent shooting overall, the Jazz had no difficulty providing offensive fireworks Saturday. It was the other side of the floor where they had issues against the Rockets.
Houston shot 11 of 22 from distance and shot even better than the Jazz overall (55.4 percent) in its eight-point victory, 124-116.
GUARDS: Mo Williams (16 points, 7 assists) began to return to the form he showed during his red-hot first two weeks of the season. However, he committed four turnovers. Randy Foye (20 points, 6 assists, 4 of 6 from 3-point land) was great, too. But their offensive efforts were matched by Jeremy Lin (19 points, 8 assists) and James Harden (18 points, 7 assists). At least Harden was somewhat limited considering his 24.5 points-per-game average so far this season. GRADE: C.
FORWARDS: It was a tough night offensively for the Jazz forwards, including Paul Millsap (12 points on 3-of-11 shooting) and DeMarre Carroll (four points on 2-of-8 shooting). Gordon Hayward, recently removed from the starting lineup, did his part to make up for it, scoring 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting while playing starter's minutes (31). Hayward's breakout evening alone wasn't sufficient to compensate for the performances of Rocket forwards Patrick Patterson (20 points — nearly six above his season average — and 7 rebounds) and Chandler Parsons (19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 2 steals). Millsap did lead all players in discussion with 11 rebounds. GRADE: C-.
CENTERS: No one can complain much with Al Jefferson's offensive production (20 points on 10-of-19 shooting). But his counterpart, third-year Turk Omer Asik, scored above his season average with 14 points on perfect 5-of-5 evening from the field. His 12 rebounds also bettered Big Al's eight. GRADE: C-.
BENCH: The Jazz reserves once again outscored their opponents, bettering the Rocket bench 44-34. Hayward led the way, but second-year guard Alec Burks (11 points on 4-of-7 shooting) wasn't so far behind in his 14 minutes of play. Burks' playing time matched his season high — when he shot 1 of 9 in a blowout loss Nov. 9 at Denver. GRADE: B.Comment on this story
OVERALL: Utah's offensive outing — perhaps a surprise, given the absence of Marvin Williams and Derrick Favors — was possibly its best of the season on the road thus far. But the Jazz never came close to sufficiently stopping Houston's rallies, which hardly ever ended, considering the Rockets' offensive numbers. With individual performances again varied — from Carroll's poor evening to Hayward and Burks' encouraging outings — coach Tyrone Corbin might be leaving the Lone Star State with even more questions about managing the lineup. GRADE: C.
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at USU, loves public affairs and is the co-founder of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine. Previously a Deseret News intern, he can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @wilklogan