The story of the game was the return of Rudy Gobert who crushed the Rockets in his minutes on the floor. Houston had no answer for Gobert who played just 21:57 (partly because of an ejection) and scored 14 points with 7 rebounds. The luxury for Utah was the two-headed monster of Hassan Whiteside and Udoka Azubuike who both have taken their game to another level. Their elite play allowed Gobert to sit longer than he might have otherwise, and should allow Gobert to not play too many minutes the last part of the season.
Donovan Mitchell also played at a superstar level. Mitchell scored 30 points with 7 assists and 6 rebounds shooting 60% from the field and 55% from three. It was against the Rockets horrible defense but it’s nice to see Mitchell able to take advantage when he should. Since coming back from his concussion, and his back if we’re being honest, Mitchell has been absolutely superb and has been leading the Jazz offense night after night with his play.
A player that might be needing a good rest during all-star break is Mike Conley. Conley played well from the point setting up his teammates. Tonight he had 10 assists in his 23 minutes on the floor. The only issue is the jumpshot that has been faltering lately. Tonight Conley was 1/8 from the field and 0/6 from three. Because he had to pick up so much slack with all the players out in January, Conley might be playing tired. If Conley can get nights like tonight where he’s only on the floor for 23 minutes, that could be the thing that gets him rested up. It might also take the Jazz giving him some nights off. If the Jazz want to make the Western Conference Finals, and beyond, they need Mike Conley’s jumper to be falling and that means more rest.
The other players that deserve some recognition are Jordan Clarkson, Danuel House and Eric Paschall. Clarkson has really found his shot lately and when he’s on the floor with defensive guys like House and Paschall it allows the Jazz to defend while also scoring the ball. Danuel House has looked like a revelation out there and is looking like a guy that could be a serious player in the playoffs. What a find for Ainge, Zanik and the Utah Jazz.
Finally, we got a look at Nickeil Alexander-Walker tonight, alongside Jared Butler in garbage time, and you could see the appeal. He’s very long and good size at the guard position. It’s not clear if he will play, but NAW has a chance to be a nice prospect for the team to develop.
The Jazz have now won 6 straight and for as bad as January was, February is looking very lovely.