Rockets News

Houston Rockets: Ryan Anderson is the player to watch against the Jazz

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets end their road trip tonight to take on the Utah Jazz. Can Ryan Anderson get back on track while playing at home?

The Houston Rockets will finally return to the Toyota Center after playing five of their last six games on the road.

After struggling on offense, the Rockets got back on track against New York and Atlanta, scoring 119 points in each contest. The biggest reason that Houston’s offense has regained its strength is because they are pushing the ball in transition.

Before the matchup with the Knicks, the Rockets were averaging just 7.5 fast break points a game, ranking 23rd in the league. The Rockets scored 28 fast break points against Atlanta, which was by far the most of the entire season.

Mike D’Antoni is a longtime proponent of pushing the pace and attempting to score the basketball as fast as possible. And for the Rockets, the quicker they get a shot up, the more likely it is that they score. The Rockets have a 57.2 percent field goal percentage when they shoot with just 24-22 seconds left on the shot clock. And when there are 22-18 seconds left on the shot clock, 49.3 percent of Houston’s shots find their marks. The Rockets only make 45.3 percent of their shots if they shoot with 15-7 seconds left on the clock. The longer the Rockets hold the ball, the more their field goal percentage dips. It turns out that the seven seconds or less philosophy isn’t just a buzzword, it’s extremely practical.

The Utah Jazz have a defensive rating of 98.3, which ranks third in the league. For the Rockets to have success against this team, they’ll have to push the pace in transition. Half court points will be more difficult to come by, especially against Utah’s center Rudy Gobert, who’s averaging a career-high 2.8 blocks per game this year.

Next: Ex-Rockets guard Isaiah Taylor plays well vs. former team

Ryan Anderson will be the player to watch tonight. The sharpshooter is averaging 16.0 points on 40.9 percent shooting on the road, but just 6.3 points and 31.8 percent at home. With Gobert clogging the middle, the Rockets may rely on their 3-point game even more than usual. Anderson needs to have a huge game at home tonight.