A young team like the Utah Jazz will be susceptible, over the course of an 82-game season, of many Jekyll and Hyde moments. This was perfectly encapsulated in their Saturday evening tilt with the Houston Rockets. After a torrid start, the Jazz had a rough second half as Houston ran away with an impressive 104-93 win.
Less than 21 hours after losing a heartbreaker in Phoenix, Utah was back at home, and early on it appeared that their familiar environs would push them to a much-needed victory.
Houston struggled mightily in the first half but displayed its talent and veteran prowess in the second, outscoring the Jazz 64-37. The Rockets shot extremely well — both inside and beyond the arc — but it was their defense that set up their offense. Utah simply could not maintain composure in the third quarter and then expended a lot of energy in the fourth, ultimately falling short.
Three Houston players eclipsed the 20-point mark — Chandler Parsons (24 points), James Harden (23) and Jeremy Lin (20) — while newly acquired Dwight Howard chipped in 15 points and nine rebounds. Utah had six players who reached double-digits, led by the seemingly rejuvenated Richard Jefferson’s 18 points.
Utah falls to 0-3 as it prepares to embark on its first extended trip of the young season, a four-game road excursion.
Despite the formidable duo of Howard and Omer Asik, the Jazz not only controlled the rebounding battle in the first half, but dominated. Led by Enes Kanter’s work on the offensive glass, Utah enjoyed a 27-12 advantage at halftime.
Then, like almost every aspect of the game for the Jazz, the tides turned dramatically. Houston stepped up its intensity and took its turn dominating, collecting 28 caroms to the Jazz’s 12. Suddenly the second-chance points that gave Utah the early cushion were nonexistent.
Odds and ends
• Coming into Saturday’s game, Utah had assisted on 45 of its 67 total field goals — an impressive 67.1 percent mark. Against Houston, of the Jazz’s 34 made shots, only 12 were assisted — a mere 35.3 percent.
• After a preponderance of delay of game calls during the preseason and the first two regular season games, not a single infraction was called on either team. Every Rocket except Aaron Brooks enjoyed a positive +/- mark.
• After struggling in the starting lineup, head coach Tyrone Corbin moved John Lucas III back to the bench. He responded with his best effort of the young season as he tallied 11 points, four assists and five rebounds.
• Jazz forward and former Rocket Mike Harris was able to face his former team. Harris had four stints over three seasons with Houston.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.