The Houston Rockets shot just 25% from beyond the arc in a loss to the Utah Jazz. They are now only three games ahead of them for the third seed.
I wrote earlier that Ryan Anderson‘s absence wouldn’t be felt as much against the Utah Jazz as it would be on the road against the Chicago Bulls, considering his poor home shooting. There’s a good chance I was wrong then, because the Houston Rockets sorely missed the sharpshooter on Wednesday night. The team’s spacing was off all night without him in the lineup, and their shooting suffered.
Besides the poor three point shooting, the Rockets came out lethargic, giving half effort on defense from the start. That led to allowing an egregious 64 first half points from Utah, and ultimately was their demise.
Though the Rockets got the game within four points at times in the fourth quarter, the Jazz led for nearly the entire game. They played uptempo when they wanted and slowed things down as well, beating Houston at either pace. Both Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward scored 23 points and they each shot over 50% as well. Rodney Hood contributed with 19 points, highlighted by three straight buckets late in the game to keep Houston from mounting a comeback.
As a whole, the Jazz shot nearly 54% from the field and better than 38% from three. They also out-rebounded the Rockets 45 to 31. Despite being outplayed at every turn, this was a game that Houston could have won. A couple of badly timed missed layups and questionable calls kept the Rockets from pulling out a W.
The two players who played well for Houston were James Harden and Clint Capela. The Beard poured in 35 points despite shooting 0/8 from deep. He added a bittersweet 6 assists as well, marking the first game all season where he has not totaled at least 7 dimes. The Swiss Roll put up his 11th double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 boards on 9/13 shooting.
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For now, the Rockets are only three games ahead of the Jazz for the third seed in the Western Conference. The good news with that is that it’s very unlikely that Utah slips down to the sixth seed to play Houston in the first round.
The bad news, though, is that they’re playing well enough to where it’s not unrealistic that they could move up past the Rockets for the third seed. If the Rockets finished fourth, it would shorten the amount of time before an imminent playoff series against the Golden State Warriors.
The Rockets have a tough schedule in March, with a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and a home-and-home with the Warriors yet to be played. They’ll take on Jimmy Butler and the Bulls on Friday, and Ryan Anderson is again questionable with back spasms. After his absence tonight, the Rockets will certainly want him back in the lineup.
Stay tuned to Space City Scoop for more Houston Rockets news and analysis. Follow us on Twitter for angry tweets during losses to the Jazz, among other things.