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Utah Jazz return home winless, look to break out tonight against the Houston Rockets

Game #3 • EnergySolutions Arena • Salt Lake City, UT November 2, 2013 • 7 p.m. (MT) • TV: ROOT Sports; RADIO: 1280 AM/97.5 FM

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Regular Season 2013-2014, Game 3:

Houston Rockets (2-0) @ Utah Jazz (0-2)

OCT + NOV Game Streams (All) / The Dream Shake (SB Nation Blog) / Rockets vs Jazz coverage

Never forget: Scottie Pippen was a Rockettes player long enough to get a contract, then split


The Basics:

I'm not a big Houston Rockets fan. My brother went to medical school there and I know quite a few good NBA fans who love their Rockets. That's fine. What's not fine are the normally functionally operative people who are Rockets fans who hate the Jazz and are mean about it. It's a rivalry after all, but rivals can be civil and respect one another while hating each other -- like the Lakers and Celtics. That's just not the case with the Jazz and the Rockets, a fight that's been going on since the rough and tumble midwest division days of the NBA. And it's a fight that's not going to end anytime soon either.

They may claim rings on us, but then unless you are a Boston fan, there's always at least someone better than you. And we like to point out their playoff futility against us. And let's be honest here -- it's not their fault that they are mad at us. After all, all we did was beat them up when the lights were at their brightest every time we've faced them since a gallon of gas cost $1.35. Beating up on a fanbase that championed Tracy McGrady is like clubbing a baby seal, that's also a Tracy McGrady fan.

*Sniff* I can't . . . I can't do it *Sniff*

So for our game let's take the high road and not try to make fun of the Rockets. If their team plays well tonight they might win this game, after all.




The Jazz not only dominate at home in the regular season against Houston (61-28 for the good guys), but overall the Jazz are out ahead to with a 97-82 win/loss record in head to head action. We know about how we beat them up in the playoffs (even taking a game seven on their home court), so we won't mention that here. Of course, recent history hasn't been so great for the Jazz.

  • Last season the Jazz went 1-3 against Houston, and remember all the bad calls that James Hardin got? Yikes
  • Two seasons ago the Jazz went 2-1, and Paul Millsap had some really strong games
  • Three seasons ago the Jazz went 2-1, which included an epic OT game in their gym with the Jazz walking away happy
  • Four seasons ago the Jazz split, and went 2-2

That's 7-7 against a rival franchise (and we have a few) but this  season is completely different than those seasons. Our team is new and led by youth in Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, and company. They are a collection of talent that they didn't draft in James Hardin, Jeremy Lin, All-NBA 1st Mercenary Team member Dwight Howard (generally regarded as the biggest villain and coach killer in the NBA), and Omer Asik. They did draft Chandler Parsons, so good for you guys. That's one guy you drafted who actually is in your rotation. Seriously look at their team in terms of mins played most to least: James Harden, Chandler Parsons (2nd most), Dwight Howard, Jeremy Lin, Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi, Omer Asik, Aaron Brooks (8th most mins), Patrick Beverley, Ronnie Brewer, Terrence Jones (11th most). Great drafting guys.

The Jazz are pretty much the opposite. Time will tell which team is more successful.



Scouting, Stats, and Stereotypes:

OH EM GEE! THE ROCKETS WILL WIN THE WEST! Some people actually think that's what's going to happen. I'm not going to link to them, but it's funny. Houston is scoring 104.5 ppg (9th best) and has an Off rating of 107.6 / 100.0 possessions (9th). Their pace of play is quite okay, but not quite top 10 (12th), so what they do is actually score based upon fundamental strategies. Which is to say, set a pick for a ball handlers (Patrick Beverley / Harden / Lin) and score based upon the defensive reaction to penetration. This leads to a lot of open three point attempts, Houston has taken 54 threes in 2 games. Really. The easiest thing to do in reaction to the penetration Houston gets is, honestly, to foul. They foul the dump off man, they foul the penetrator . . . and just somehow magically collect fouls. Dwight has gone to the line 16 times, Harden 15, Lin 13, and Parsons 10 already. I guess this is just what star power gets you.

Actual power is good too, and the Rockets lead the NBA in OREB% at 34.2. (Point of reference, we're #3 at 33.0 OREB%) That's not bad at all, and it's a product of having two monsters on your team like Dwight and Omer.

So they get to the line, take a lot of threes, and crash the glass. Do they have a weakness? Well, on offense they turn the ball over a lot, Turn over rating of 18.8% of the time actually -- and they are 29th in the league at it. If you don't adjust for advanced stats and just look at their turn overs they have 42 as a team, which is 25th (only).

But offense is going to be what it is for Houston, they have the stars where they don't need to deviate from simple basketball. It's their defense which causes problems. They have the #1 eFG% as a defense (other teams only get 40.8 eFG% against them), but they don't cause a lot of turn overs. I guess they just clamp you down and expect to get the rebound. Their defense surrenders 94.0 ppg (7th best), and their DRTG is giving up only 96.8 / 100.0 possessions.

By the numbers they are a Top 10 team on offense and defense. They have the stars, and we have . . . uh . . . cap space?

The Jazz have played 2 close games, and well. This is the team we expected it to be.

We're a Top 10 defense (giving up 94.0 ppg, and a defensive rating of 98.2 / 100.0, which is 9th). Teams shoot poorly against us (#3 best defensive rank in eFG%), and our defensive rebounding is up from previous seasons.  But beyond that our team has a lot of problems. Most of them are on offense . . . were the Jazz only average 91.0 ppg. It's not a pace related thing either as the Jazz play at an above average pace (14th). We're just not scoring that well, as we're ranked #26 in PPG and Offensive Rating. As a team the Jazz are shooting 40.9 fg%, 28.2 3pt%, and a shockingly poor 64.9 ft%.

Is it because our players are bad, our offense is bad, or that we're just missing shots we can make? Most likely it's the third idea -- guys shouldn't be missing open shots at the rate they are missing open shots at. Playing at home, on our rims, maybe we break out and have a good shooting game tonight? I don't know.



Injury Report:

Rockets Injuries --

  • Patrick Beverley (PG) OUT -- Beverley is actually their  starter and is hurt right now, so that is good news for us. Well, maybe not; it just means the ball will be in the hands of Aaron Brooks, Jeremy Lin, and James Harden more. Beverley did not play in their last game due to a torn muscle in his midsection.

Jazz Injuries --

  • Trey Burke (PG) OUT -- you know the score
  • Marvin Williams (SF/PF?) OUT -- ditto
  • Brandon Rush (SG/SF) OUT -- tritto
  • Jeremy Evans (PF) ??? -- I hope he comes back soon, I have no update on his injury but I do miss his energy.
  • Andris Biedrins (C) Doubtful -- Biedrins is out with a sprained ankle, and, uh, he's tall.


Advantage --

No matter how good people think Patrick Beverley is, he's not better than five rotation guys for our team. We're at a disadvantage here because we also played last night as well. So this is the second night of a back to back, and the third game in four nights. We're at the beginning of the season so we should be rested, but, well, we have 5 guys injured right now so players are playing more than they are used to playing. Blah.

This could be an ugly game.



The Game:

This could be an ugly game.



Player Focus:

While James Harden is averaging 27.5 / 4.0 / 3.5 / 2.5 this year (MONSTER), and Dwight Howard is averaging 15.0 / 21.0 / 1.0 / 1.5 this year (a bigger Monster) -- I think the guy who we're going to be swearing about at the end of this game will be pretty boy Chandler Parsons. He's yet to make a three this season, and that's his calling card. We will over play the penetration in an effort not to get Eric Bledsoe 'd again (what was it, 14 points in the fourth quarter?), leaving guys like Chandler open.

For the Jazz, well, we need to see better shot selection from Enes Kanter. He's one of our big building blocks, but he himself gets blocked way too much. Playing against Dwight and Omer will be a test for him, and I am ready to see if our Turkish Adonis is ready for it. He's shooting only 43.8 fg%, which, if you cared, is 12% less than Alec Burks (who will have his own test to see if he can evolve into a James Harden without the Rogaine on the beard).




How much hate I can power into the air will determine if we can get a boost. Or well, you know, the fans. We're at home, it should be a bad time for the other team when they play in Utah. We have a responsibility to root for our team when they are down, not leave them when they need us most. We're 0-2 after two hard fought games, a total margin of loss of only 6 points. We're close, maybe the fans can bring us over the top?



As an aside:

Did I mention that I don't like the Houston Rockets?



Fearless Prediction:

The Jazz play tough, Kevin McHale stops playing around and the third quarter determines who wins and loses this game. Also, maybe twitter jail for me too.