For the Utah Jazz, Monday’s debacle versus the Houston Rockets was ugly on many levels. First, it was painful due to the blowout nature of the game as Houston thoroughly embarrassed Utah 124-86. Second, it had an ugly ending.
For the second night in a row, the Jazz were outscored by their opponents each of the four quarters. But unlike Sunday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Utah did not keep this game close at all. By halftime, the game was decided, but it kept getting worse as the game progressed. Houston outscored the Jazz 32-17 in the fourth quarter as even the Rockets' deep reserves outplayed their Utah counterparts.
Toward the end, third-string point guard John Lucas III snuck behind and stole the ball as the Rockets were attempting to dribble out the clock. Houston forward Francisco Garcia took exception to that and the two ended up shoving each other as the final buzzer sounded. It was the imperfect ending to a totally imperfect evening for Utah.
With the Boston Celtics also falling, the Jazz remain tied for the NBA’s fourth worst record. Their next game with be against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Offensive outburst/defensive digression: The Rockets simply put on an offensive showcase. Despite missing their anchor in Dwight Howard, Houston controlled the pace and tone of the game — and that is an understatement. From the get-go, it was able to get any shot it wanted. And more often than not, it was able to capitalize.
Houston pushed the ball at every opportunity, as evidenced by the Rockets' commanding 30-9 advantage on fast-break points. They also came out on top in the interior battle, scoring a whopping 58 points in the paint, compared to Utah’s 34. In the end, the Rockets connected on 46-of-79 field goals — 58.2 percent (which was actually quite a bit worse that the Spurs shot the previous evening). Houston was potent from the perimeter, hitting 13-of-25 3-pointers. Seven different players made a trey, with four making two or more.
While Houston’s offense was spot-on, Utah’s lackadaisical effort was noticeable. While fatigue could have been a factor, the Jazz seemed a step slow all night long and did not show much bark or fight until the Lucas/Garcia tussle at the end.
This and that:
• In Howard’s absence, centers Omer Asik and Donatas Montiejunas combined for 19 points and 22 rebounds.
• Of the eight Rockets who played 19 minutes or more, six of them shot 50 percent or better from the floor.
• The frontcourt trio of Marvin Williams, Richard Jefferson and Jeremy Evans shot just a combined 4-of-17.
• Due to the sometime frantic flow, there were 38 turnovers between the two teams.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.