Jazz host road-tested Rockets




SALT LAKE CITY -- Beating the Rockets away from Houston these days is as challenging as slowing down their explosive offense.

Houston has been unstoppable away from home. The Rockets (18-4) share the Western Conference lead in large part because they have won 10 of their first 11 road games. They have six consecutive road victories heading into a Thursday game against the Jazz in Utah, capturing each of those contests by at least 15 points.

Another win at Salt Lake City would give Houston an 11-1 mark on the road for the first time since the 1996-97 season.

The key behind Houston's ability to consistently win convincingly on the road is playing with energy and purpose. This Rockets team already has its sights set on a bigger picture.

"I'm looking to win the championship this year," guard James Harden said after Houston's 118-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. "I think that's all of our goals. It's a buildup. It's going to be every game. Every day is a grind. There's going to be some up and some downs. But as long as we've got our eyes on the biggest prize, we'll be all good."

Harden is putting together an MVP-worthy effort to keep the ship sailing in the right direction. He has scored at least 20 points in all 22 of Houston's games. Harden currently is the league leader in scoring (31.7 points per game), and he ranks second in assists (9.7 per game) among qualifiers behind Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook.

The return of Chris Paul to the lineup has offered an extra boost to the Rockets as well. Houston is 8-0 with Paul on the court, and he has emerged as the team leader in assists (9.8), steals (1.9) and 3-point shooting (42.5 percent).

With those two leading the way, stopping the Rockets' offense is virtually impossible.

"We've just got too many good offensive players," Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It would be very hard for us to go a long time without making shots or making baskets or James figuring something out or Chris is figuring something out."

No one needs to tell Utah how dangerous either player can be.

The Jazz (13-12) already experienced firsthand how much damage Harden can do when playing in peak form. The veteran guard scored 56 points on 19-of-25 shooting to fuel a 137-110 victory over the Jazz on Nov. 5. His outburst helped the Rockets become one of only two teams to score more than 110 points on the Jazz this season.

Utah is looking to bounce back after falling to Oklahoma City 100-94 on Tuesday night, following a fourth quarter in which the Jazz scored a season-low 14 points. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for Utah.

"I thought we ran out of steam a little bit just emotionally," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "We've got to be able to play through that."

Utah seems better equipped offensively to keep pace with Houston than a month ago with Donovan Mitchell's emergence as a capable replacement for Gordon Hayward.

Mitchell shined against Oklahoma City. He scored a team-high 31 points, although he also committed a pair of costly turnovers down the stretch in the fourth quarter. The rookie guard emerged as Utah's top offensive threat in late November and shows no signs of dropping off.

Mitchell has hit 61 3-pointers through his first 25 games -- the most ever in NBA history by a rookie through his first 25 contests -- and has shot 40 percent or better from long distance in six straight games. He is averaging 31 points on 53.3 percent shooting in December.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Curry identifies a big challenge facing the Warriors in Game 7 vs Rockets
Curry identifies a big challenge facing the Warriors in Game 7 vs Rockets

The first quarter of Game 6 on Saturday is one the Warriors hope they don't repeat on Monday. After Klay Thompson tied the game 15-15 with a jumper with 4:40 remaining in the first quarter on Saturday, the Rockets outscored the Warriors 24-7 and ended the first quarter with a 39-22 lead. The Warriors figured things out in the second quarter and went on to outscore the Rockets 93-47 over the final three quarters.

Defiant Harden says
Defiant Harden says 'no pressure' as Rockets host game seven

The Houston Rockets, who battled to 65 regular-season wins to earn a home-court edge throughout the NBA playoffs, aim to put that advantage to use on Monday. The Rockets and their Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden host the reigning champion Golden State Warriors in a decisive game seven of

Klay Thompson has 35, Warriors force Game 7 in West finals
Klay Thompson has 35, Warriors force Game 7 in West finals

"I have no clue why our team is like this," Steve Kerr said. Klay Thompson knocked down nine 3-pointers on the way to 35 points, the Warriors held Harden down in the second half, and Golden State rallied from an early 17-point deficit to stave off elimination with a 115-86 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night to force a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference finals. Man, that felt good," Thompson said.

Warriors facing elimination but undaunted entering Game 6
Warriors facing elimination but undaunted entering Game 6

If the Golden State Warriors are worried as they head into Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on the brink of elimination, they aren't showing it.

NBA notebook: Rockets won
NBA notebook: Rockets won't have Paul in Game 6

The Houston Rockets announced Friday that point guard Chris Paul will miss Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Saturday with a strained right hamstring. Paul is scheduled to be re-evaluated when the team returns to Houston. The only question now is if the Rockets will return home as Western

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Basketball

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.