The Utah Jazz were like me when I decide to vacuum my rugs at those one-dollar coin-operated vacuum machines at the gas station. I dig around in my loose change compartment, but I can't seem to find a 4th quarter. That was the story of the night.
The Jazz were matching the Rockets stride for stride through 3, but got absolutely boatraced in the 4th. It sucks, but nobody thought this team would be 1-2 against the Celtics, Cavaliers, and Rockets. The Oklahoma City Thunder are hot garbage right now, and the Jazz can win that matchup if they can get off the mat.
Despite Donovan Mitchell having a rough game and not getting in rhythm (more on that in the Game Notes), the Utah Jazz led after three quarters. The Utah Jazz actually led 3 minutes into the 4th quarter as well. It had appeared that Utah was going to pull off the upset and escape another nightmarish matchup with a win ... then it all fell apart. The Utah Jazz’s defense that had been on point through three quarters couldn’t hold back the Rockets barrage.
Houston had been getting open looks throughout the game, but luckily for Utah they just were not going down. That ended when Eric started hitting from deep. The Rockets outscored Utah 41-19 in the 4th quarter. Eric Gordon scored 17 of his 33 points in the 4th quarter. There are some games Utah doesn’t score 41 points in a half, let alone a quarter.
Joe Ingles, Joe Johnson, and Rodney Hood had themselves some big games. Especially Rodney Hood who was the only Jazz player that looked to be finding his range from deep. As stated earlier, the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets both were getting good looks from deep all game long, but no one could connect. Unfortunately for Utah, they just didn’t have anything left in the tank.
The Houston Rockets were able to stay within striking distance despite having a rough shooting night—until the 4th quarter—because they were living at the line. Houston had 27 free throws to Utah’s 8. Houston definitely got some home cooking. But as they say, if you’re expecting the referees to bail you out, you’ve already lost. Valiant effort by Utah, but they just fell short.
Wunderkind Donovan Mitchell had 6 points. Six. That hurt. It appears that Mitchell is getting scouted hard. Wherever Mitchell went on the court, Houston’s defense collapsed. They made him uncomfortable, and he made mistakes or froze up. He was impactful on defense, but tonight was the first night in a while where the ball just stopped on offense when it hit Donovan. He’ll learn from this. These are the nights that he was to take advantage of the defense’s attention and get others involved. Usually players learn this in years 3 and 4 when they are improved enough to demand an opposing defense’s attention. Mitchell is having to do it 30 games in the season. This may be a bit of a rookie wall, but it’s actually more of Houston building a ****ing wall.
Alec Burks, who has somehow been in the NBA for seven years already, had 8 points. It appeared in the second quarter that he was going to break out and have himself a game, but he never quite got going. Credit goes to Houston’s defense. They shut down that offensive threat in the second half.
Referees were not on the Jazz’s side tonight.
Harden is so frustrating. Hate that the refs give him everything.— McKoye Mecham (@RealMcKoye) December 19, 2017
The Rockets went to the line 27 times. The Jazz? 8. Unacceptable. Utah has to force the issue by getting to the line, but the Jazz also don’t have anybody on their team with the clout that gets those star calls. Nothing could be more evidence of that than Ekpe Udoh getting called for a 50-50 foul on PJ Tucker. Tucker got more respect than Udoh. That’s going to happen a lot this year. Jazz just don’t have that star power. Donovan is starting to get noticed, but it’s only 30 games into his rookie year. Hood doesn’t go to the paint a lot. Not sure if Burks is ever going to get it. Ricky probably was Utah’s only guy who’d get to the line and he was having an off night. Sigh.
The lack of depth inside was apparent today. Look, Clint Capela is a decent player, but 24 points and 20 rebounds?
[Editor’s Note: Clint Capela has peaked my interest. He really has improved this year. He’s having a Gobert-esque improvement year. It feels weird to say he’s one of the top centers because it’s so out of left field, but he might just be there.]
James Harden and Chris Paul are elite, and they are elite at flopping. Two things can be true at once.
Rodney had a good game. 26 points on 18 shots, with 5 makes from deep. He was driving to the hoop tonight, dishing, and, of course, hitting those threes. This game is a blowout with Hood.
SLC Dunk got a shoutout from Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey(!!!!).
Fun line from this article: "One does not just walk into Houston and leave with a win. This is entering Mordor without your party."https://t.co/WLy58twg3g— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) December 19, 2017
So, the refs weren’t on Utah’s side and the wheels fell off in the 4th. On to the next one. Get well soon, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors.
The Utah Jazz face the Oklahoma City Thunder in OKC on Wednesday at 6:00PM MT.