Tonight is the second of two consecutive home games for the Utah Jazz (12-13), which is about as rare this season as seeing a unicorn. They’ll welcome the Houston Rockets (11-12) in a game between two teams that were supposed to be among the cream of the crop in this year’s Western Conference.
Instead, it’s a battle to get to .500 between the 12th and 13th placed teams. How we got here isn’t important right now, but suffice it to say it’s been a disappointing year for both fanbases thus far.
There is reason for hope, however, as the Jazz have won three of their last four, with the one loss coming by two points at Miami. The Rockets have won two of their last three but are losers in five of their last seven.
When: 8:30 p.m. MT, Thursday Dec. 6
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 1280AM/97.5 FM
Still none (Act natural.)
What to watch for
Rockets at full strength
The Jazz are 1-0 against the Rockets this season, but were fortunate to avoid Chris Paul in that one as he was serving his suspension from the early season fight with the Los Angeles Lakers. James Harden also left that game in the 4th quarter with the hamstring strain that caused him to miss three subsequent games.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Utah won’t be so lucky tonight. Paul has been largely ineffective in three games since returning from a hamstring injury of his own, shooting a crummy 31 percent from the field and 24 percent from 3. In Monday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, he had as many turnovers as points (five) and had a +/- of -13.
The Jazz would be foolish to count on a performance like that from a Hall of Fame point guard, though. On the season, Harden and Paul are combining for 47.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 16.8 assists and 4.5 steals a game.
Don’t let the early season struggles fool you, this Rockets team with Harden and Paul at the helm still has lethal potential. They can go off during any game.
BONUS: 3-point disparity
Tuesday’s win against the Spurs was keyed at the 3-point line. The Jazz attempted 11 more 3-pointers than the Spurs and made 13 more of them as it seems Greg Popovich’s distaste for the long ball is finally catching up to him.
The Rockets could not be more different. They’re shooting just over 42 3-pointers per game, most in the league. On the other end, they’re only allowing opponents to shoot 27, the least in the league. There will be a hard fought battle around the arc all night.