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Jazz need to force Rockets into taking bad shots -- Game Preview

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Houston Rockets (43-21) @ Utah Jazz (27-36)
EnergySolutions Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
7:00 p.m. (MT) • TV: ROOT Sports • Radio: 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like it's been forever since the Utah Jazz, the new media darlings (uh, the newest media darlings, or the darlings of new media? or both?) last played. They'll tip off against the Houston Rockets in Game 2 of their season high five game home stand. (Home stand info here). The Houston Rockets are a team fighting for home court in the West, and the Jazz are fighting to play spoiler. According to Sports Illustrated, both of these teams are surging right now, the Jazz on defense and the Rockets on offense.

Houston has won 7-3, and Utah 8-2 in their respective last 10 games. Historically the Jazz are 98-86 all-time against the Rox, and a commanding 62-30 in Utah. Can they win tonight? I sure hope so. They will have some help as the Rockets are not at full strength, no Dwight Howard, and no Kostas Papanikolaou. Dwight is a load with his defensive rebounding, and shot blocking ability. Papa can hit the three, and has against the Jazz. Sadly, Utah could also be without two rotation players tonight. Alec Burks is still out for the season. Gordon Hayward is still listed as questionable, even after shoot around.

The Jazz have stepped it up on defense, and the Rockets are on fire from outside right now.

I am actually pretty blogged out today, so this is basically the preview. They're hurt. We're hurt. They have James Harden and a bunch of guys stepping up. Gordon Hayward may not be available. Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors are bigger than their guys, but they have lots of good defenders who can hit threes like Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer.

The X-factor is how 'stretchy' their stretch bigs can be. If they can disrupt Utah's defense, guys like Harden and Patrick Beverley will have lots of room to drive and get to the line. If the Jazz and force Houston into taking TOO MANY threes (not open spot up ones, but forced shots when a defender in their face) then things could work out for the Jazz.

Also, someone #ping Moni, because this is the biggest ever #UDQM of all-time, by Ron Boone:

GO JAZZ GO!