SALT LAKE CITY – You could say the Utah Jazz were crushed by the Houston Rockets – the same 27-point margin they beat the Rockets by here in December – because they had no answer for James Harden and his 43 points. Or because Houston made 30 of 37 free throws. Or because Utah committed 20 turnovers.
All of the above is true. But this time you couldn’t put the blame on the Jazz defense as coach Quin Snyder is usually prone to do.
The Jazz offense was, in a word, abysmal Saturday night.
For only the second time all season, the Jazz shot lower than 36 percent and committed at least 20 turnovers in the same game. The other time was in that dreadful 50-point loss at Dallas in November. The Jazz also ended up with their lowest point total in over a month as they failed to score at least 100 points for the first time in 18 games.
The Jazz were playing a back-to-back after beating Atlanta the night before, but even through Snyder said his team looked tired, it was no excuse. After all, the Rockets had also played the night before, in a different city, as they lost by 14 at Denver.
It came down to aggressiveness according to Snyder.
“They were aggressive,” he said. “We need to be more determined, be stronger with the ball, just playing with more force. They were knocking it out of our hands, they were dictating — we were on our heels a bit offensively.”
The ball didn’t go in the hoop all night for the Jazz, who ended up shooting a dismal 36 percent, their fourth-worst shooting night of the season.
None of the main Jazz players shot well.
Donovan Mitchell, who had shot 45.3 percent during January, ended up 7 of 24 from the field. He was 4 of 20 at one point before sinking three straight early in the fourth quarter, but didn’t score over the final eight minutes of the game.
Jae Crowder finished 4 of 13, Joe Ingles was 4 of 12, Rudy Gobert 3 of 8, Royce O’Neale 4 of 9 and Ricky Rubio 0 for 4. Only Derrick Favors (2 of 2), Kyle Korver (3 of 6) and George Niang (2 for 4) shot at least 50 percent.3 comments on this story
Besides the poor shooting, the Jazz couldn’t handle the ball as they committed 20 turnovers. Mitchell led the way with five miscues, while Rubio and Crowder each had three.
This marked the fourth meeting between the two teams that met in last year’s Western Conference semifinals as the season series ends at 2-2. The Jazz and Rockets had come into the game in a virtual tie in the Western Conference standings, seven games out of first place with identical 17-14 conference marks. If the two teams end up tied after the regular season, the conference record will be the tiebreaker.