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Utah Jazz face their kryptonite, the small ball Houston Rockets

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Now with more small ball kryptonite!

Houston Rockets v Utah Jazz Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

After being presented a gift of a non-call on a goaltend from the officiating gods on Friday, the Utah Jazz face off against the Houston Rockets who seemingly gave the league the secret sauce to neutralizing the staunch Jazz defense only a few games ago. Not many times does a team go looking to rinse the bad taste from their mouths after a win, of all things, but the Utah Jazz somehow became the scapegoat for all the NBA referee’s sins when the officials in Portland provided a masterclass in how not to referee a game in the last two minutes.

The Houston Rockets enter tonight’s contest on game three of their experiment to break the NBA as currently constituted. They are pushing small ball to its most extreme—and strangely logical—point. Part cost cutting move by an owner who probably doesn’t tip and part Mike D’Antoni ayahuasca fever dream, the Houston Rockets dealt Clint Capela for Robert Covington. So far the Rockets are 1-1 with a win over the Los Angeles Lakers and a loss to the Phoenix Suns. But they already know this experiment had great results against Utah’s Gobert anchored defense as they limited Gobert’s defensive impact while exposing the Jazz’s paper tiger perimeter D.

Donovan Mitchell talked a big game after the win over the Trail Blazers, but it rang hollow as they faced a team with only seven active players on the second half of a back to back. Now he’ll need to back up that bravado against a healthy Houston team that has proven to be their kryptonite for three years running.


Game Info

When: Saturday, Feb. 9, 2020 • 5:00PM MT

Where: Toyota Center • Houston, Texas

TV: NBAtv

Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone


What to watch for

Can Utah win a game on their own merits?

The referees didn’t steal a win from Portland but they sure saved Utah from a loss. Utah’s second half does have some good things to build on as far as new rotations by Quin Snyder and staunch defense, but it’s hard to tell if it was the result of the Jazz’s renewed effort or if the Trail Blazers just ran out of steam. Even if it was the first, that renewed effort barely secured a win against a team that is fighting for the 8th seed. Not exactly inspiring.

If Utah wants to show they’ve turned the ship around, no team would provide a better statement win than the rival Rockets that always have their number. Beat them and Utah’s fan base gets an injection of hope before the All-Star break.


Mandatory Highlight


Game Thread Ground Rules

Welcome to the SLC Dunk Game Thread.

Dunkers know how this thing works, but for you lurkers ready to make the jump to Dunker, we have a few guidelines. Remember to follow our community guidelines (no swearing, trolling, excessive use of Jerry Sloan’s name in vain, no personal attacks, no debates about Utah liquor laws, etc.). Remember to have fun. Anyone who dare blasphemes that Tim Duncan was a Power Forward (this means you, Pounding the Rock), Ben Simmons can hit threes, Gordon Hayward should not be booed, Donovan Mitchell is Monta Ellis 2.0, men should never cry, or John Stockton is not the best point guard of all-time will receive an automatic ban. Just kidding. But seriously.