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Houston Rockets Host Utah Jazz: Game Preview

Nov 19, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives to the basket against Utah Jazz center Jeff Withey (24) and forward Joe Ingles (2) in the second half at Toyota Center. Rockets won 111-102. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 19, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives to the basket against Utah Jazz center Jeff Withey (24) and forward Joe Ingles (2) in the second half at Toyota Center. Rockets won 111-102. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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The Houston Rockets will take on the Utah Jazz tonight at the Toyota Center in a battle of great offense vs. great defense.

Never been to Paris before? Not a problem. Tonight, Paris comes to you. The Steiffel Tower and the league’s stingiest defense are headed to town tonight for the final meeting between the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz before the playoffs.

Houston and Utah have split the season series with one win apiece, the Jazz prevailing last time around in a 120-101 drubbing. James Harden finished with 26 points but was widely inefficient that night, going 8 for 23 from the field. Expect more or less the same kind of defensive intensity from the Jazz tonight.

The Rockets are coming off of an intense Monday night loss to Kawhi Leonard–I mean the San Antonio Spurs. It was a back and forth, playoff-type fourth quarter that gave the media and fans yearning for a second round match-up. Contenders need to be playing their best brand of basketball this time of the year and Monday’s battle didn’t disappoint.

Per Calvin Watkins of ESPN, Ryan Anderson is doubtful for tonight’s game with back spasms from Monday. For the Jazz, Derrick Favors (right knee) is a no-go, and George Hill and Joe Johnson are also doubtful with toe and groin injuries respectively.

Eric Gordon will start over Ryan Anderson and James Harden will guard the power forward position.

— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) March 8, 2017

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Also, Calvin Watkins reports that Mike D’Antoni is expected to start Eric Gordon in place of Ryan Anderson. James Harden will guard the power forward position, which figures to be either Trey Lyles or Boris Diaw.

There was a whisper that the best backup wing in the world in Sam Dekker would be given the nod, but MDA saw otherwise. After all, he is averaging 30 points per start with one start under his belt.

The obvious key to tonight’s game will be containing All-Star forward Gordon Hayward. Averaging about 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, he has finally taken that next step to the upper echelon of NBA.

He can catch fire in a hurry so the onus will be on Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley to prevent that. This won’t be an easy game, but the Houston Rockets have the tools and the Beard to get the win.

Next: James Harden's Current MVP Chances

Tip-off is at 8:00 PM CST and can be seen on Root Sports Southwest Network. Lastly, stay tuned to Space City Scoop for postgame analysis and other Houston Rockets news!

Stats are accurate as of March 8th, 2017 and are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

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