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Utah Jazz vs Houston Rockets Game Preview

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Game #33: Rockets (16-19) @ Jazz (15-17)
Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 7:00 p.m. (MT)
TV: ROOT Sports • Radio: 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

There are 30 teams in the NBA, and really, I think I hate the Houston Rockets the most. Sure, the Los Angeles Lakers are the greatest, most successful team in the Conference. The San Antonio Spurs get fluffed non-stop. The Portland Trail Blazers have bounced the Utah Jazz out of the playoffs more. And yes, the new darlings Golden State Warriors are annoying. But I really don't like the Rockets. Probably because the best shots at winning a title and bringing it back to Utah happened when Houston was in the way. They have rings, and the Jazz do not. And it all really comes back to those '94 / '95 series. It's little consolation that the Jazz have housed the Rockets in the playoffs each time they've played since then. It's also of little consolation that the Jazz are ahead of the Rockets in the standings right now too.

I love beating the Rockets. For whatever reason they seem to blow out the Jazz once a season. Tonight could be that night. But . . . well . . . it really would be extra humiliating for them to lose to the Jazz without four of their top six players.

The Jazz will be once again without the services of starters Rudy Gobert and Dante Exum. Alec Burks is out too. And as of right now Derrick Favors is questionable, and I haven't heard anything to suggest he will be good to go. The Rockettes will not be at full strength either. They will be missing Marcus Thornton (his wife had a baby, just like Rodney Hood did -- and he's not with the team), Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, and Sam Dekker. Of course, none of those guys are really game changers. Each of the guys out for the Jazz are.

Houston has been a mess all season, they dumped Hall of Famer Kevin McHale at head coach after 11 games, and since then have gone an astounding 12-12 under J.B. Bickerstaff. They play fast (7th fastest in the league) and score a lot of points, but they give up even more. 104.2 PPG for, and 106.2 PPG against. Yikes. They just aren't a talented defensive club right now (28th in DRTG) even with Trevor Ariza and Dwight Howard playing so many minutes.

Their top dog is James Harden, and he's scoring 28.1 ppg off of 19.5 shots a game. He does get to the line 10.3 times a game, which makes up for his .419 FG%. Of course, lots of former players theorize that no one wants to play with him on the floor, and the evidence may suggest as much. We'll see.

The Jazz are almost a cultural opposite. They are the slowest team in the league, rarely score, but shut the other team down. They have a lot of injuries, but seem more secure as a franchise, despite not making the Western Conference Finals last season. Houston did.

All in all, Houston should win, and I will keep reverse jinxing the team, after all, they have won two games in a row. It can't possibly be three.