SALT LAKE CITY — A few days after the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets last faced off on Nov. 5, Houston guard James Harden was asked if he monitors what other NBA stars are doing and if he tries to emulate or match them.
Harden said he doesn’t necessarily do so, noting that he learns even from rookies, and he specifically mentioned Utah first-year phenom Donovan Mitchell.
“He got game,” Harden said, “and so I can just take some things from him, watch him.”
At the Jazz’s pregame shootaround Thursday morning before the teams played again, Mitchell was asked what he thought of Harden praising him.
“It’s really cool,” Mitchell said, noting it was his mom who showed him a video of Harden’s comments. “It’s one of those things where you grow up and you watch guys like that play. To have him even mention my name at all is an honor and I just want to go out there and compete. I’m glad that he sees that I’m a competitor, a guy that loves to compete.”
D’ANTONI GETS STARBUCKS: Also just a few days after the Jazz and Rockets last played, a story about Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni’s daily ritual of going to Starbucks appeared in Sports Illustrated, with D’Antoni being quoted as saying, “I like Utah, but they don’t have a Starbucks.”
So did D’Antoni find a shop before his team took on the Jazz Thursday night at Vivint Arena?
Well, sort of.
D’Antoni said he got someone to get it for him this morning, and then clarified the thought that there are no Starbucks in Salt Lake City.
“It wasn’t that they don’t have it,” he said. “I’m not walking two blocks in this cold weather. I’m old. Can’t do it, but I did manage to get one.”
INJURY REPORT: The Jazz were once again without Rodney Hood on Thursday night, as he was ruled out on Thursday morning because of the left ankle soreness that has now sidelined him for the past six games.
Raul Neto was given the status of probable on Thursday morning and was declared available before tipoff. He had missed three of Utah’s previous four games because of various ailments.
RUDY GOBERT ESTABLISHES FOUNDATION: In between shootaround and the start of Thursday’s game, Jazz center Rudy Gobert posted a video on Twitter announcing that he has established “Rudy’s Kids,” a foundation to help underprivileged children who come to Salt Lake City from different parts of the world.
Gobert said that for every blocked shot he racks up, $1,000 will go to the charity.
“Together, we can help make a big difference for all these kids all around the world,” he said. “Let’s do it.”
Despite having already missed 11 games because of injury, Gobert was only 11 blocks off the league lead entering Thursday’s game.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Thursday marked the last time the Jazz will play at Vivint Arena for two weeks. They’ll face the Milwaukee Bucks on the road Saturday night, then will come home before going back out for a five-game trip spanning Dec. 13-20. They’ll play the San Antonio Spurs at home on Dec. 21.