EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Rockets explosion too much for Jazz solid effort and game plan

SUMMARY: An all-time barrage of 3-pointers ended a really good night for the Utah Jazz in a loss to the Houston Rockets, 120-99.

• The Jazz led the game 91-83 after a Thabo Sefolosha 3-pointer from the left corner. Then the Rockets went bananas. Eric Gordon hit three straight 3s from deep and that was just the beginning. The Rockets ended up blowing the Jazz out with a 120-99 win, closing the game in a 37 to 8 run.

• If you run through the history of the great NBA teams, they have these runs that are unstoppable. The great Bulls teams did it with defense. The current Warriors did it with a combination of O and D. This Rockets team does it with 3-point shots and when they link three or four of them in a row, it is lights out. When they hit 8 of 10, it is tough to handle.

• The game was terrific for the Jazz until the Rockets’ barrage. The game had 22 lead changes and 14 ties. The game had 11 lead changes and seven ties in the third quarter alone.

• The Jazz’s strategy was to try to get the ball out of the hands of James Harden or Chris Paul and they did it well. It slowed down the Rockets and took them out of their rhythm for most of the night. Even in the onslaught, the shots were made by Eric Gordon, Clint Capela and Trevor Ariza.

• Eric Gordon takes 3s them from five feet behind the line which increases the spacing even more.

• The third quarter was fascinating basketball. Both teams played 5 out (no center, five shooters all outside the 3-point line). The Rockets played it with drives to the basket and then would kick it out to shooters. The Jazz did it inverse with back cutters and passes to the cutters and the Jazz torched the Rockets.

• Donovan Mitchell only played 21 minutes. I believe this was because the other guys were playing well tonight. Ricky Rubio — who hasn’t been finishing games — was very good tonight and was running the team well. Rodney Hood had it going with 26 points and five 3-pointers. Joe Ingles has been so solid all the time and was again tonight. One of them would have had to be taken out of the game and I am not sure who that would have been.

• Joe Ingles played 37 minutes. He has played 21 games this year of over 30 minutes. Last year, he played 19 the entire season.

• Joe Johnson got some of his game going in and around the paint, but the 3-point shot is not falling.

• I loved the way the Jazz played tonight. They trailed by one at the half. They held the Rockets to 51 first half points, one of their lowest totals of the season. They broke the Rockets rhythm and style for the majority of the night. Then a great team kicked in with its complimentary players. That is the sign of how good the Rockets are this year.

• I wonder when the last time a team took 16 more 3s than its opponent and lost. I am guessing it doesn’t happen much, if ever.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Rockets leave no doubt

SUMMARY: The red hot Houston Rockets showed every bit of why they have won 8 in a row and dismantled the Jazz in the 2nd half on their waty to 112-101 win that wasn’t that close.
• The Jazz started the night terribly with Rudy Gobert mishandling three straight possessions that lead to the Rockets taking a 6-0 lead and a timeout from Quin Snyder. From that point on the Jazz played the Rockets even and trailed by 5 at the half.

• The third quarter the Jazz got blitzed. Ryan Anderson couldn’t miss from three. James Harden who had scored the last 8 points in the 1st half kept rolling in the 2nd half and before the half had even got going the game was gone. The Rockets are now 16-1 when they lead at the half.

• The Rockets started the night with Trevor Ariza on Donovan Mitchell. It is clear that the best defender is going to guard Donovan every night. The lack of Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson is obvious when Mitchell is off the floor or they opponent digs into Mitchell.

• Rudy Gobert has not been able to impact games at his highest level since returning from the injury.

• The Jazz are starting Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert because they both deserve to start, but not for the well being of the offense or right now team success. Tonight when they were on the floor together the Jazz got outscored 27-10. This is a really tough situation for the Jazz and Quin Snyder. They are trying to sneak through the opening moments of the game and then get to the most effective lineups this year and it is not working the last three games.

• Donovan Mitchell started slowly, but by the end of the night had 26 points on 9 of 19 shooting and 2 of 6 from three. He is averaging 26 points a game the last 5 games. There are a lot of garbage time points in this total with the game a blowout so quickly into the 2nd half, but give Donovan credit for continuing to compete.

• Joe Ingles had a great start to the game. He was straight ballin

• Derrick Favors finished with 28 minutes and 2 of 4 shooting with 5 points and 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steak and 2 blocks . Rudy Gobert played 28 minutes as well and had 6 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks and 5 turnovers. Jazz need better production out of these two players. Both are much better than this level of production.

• Thabo Sefolosha was a plus 12 tonight and had 14 points and 5 rebounds.

• The Rockets followed the script they have been playing with all season. They won their 8 straight and their 14 of 15. They have won the 8 straight by an average of about 20 points and the 14 of 15 by an average of about 17 points. They have lead by 10 or more for 38% of their minutes played coming into the game tonight. They never lead by 10 in the first half tonight but did for almost the entire 2nd half. They have lead by 10 or more in over 50% of their 2nd half minutes and by 20 or more in 25% of those minutes.

• The Rockets are great. They are going to make a real run at the #1 seed and the Warriors should be worried.