Utah Jazz vs. Houston Rockets: Postgame Grades and Analysis

Bryant KnoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2012

Utah Jazz vs. Houston Rockets: Postgame Grades and Analysis

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    The Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets faced off Saturday night for the second time in the 2012-'13 season, and this time Houston was able to even the series with a 124-116 victory.

    The Jazz was the first team in this one to gain momentum, as they jumped out to an early 11-4 lead. They were more efficient on offense, more aggressive on defense and they were scoring the ball from both the inside and the outside. Their lead was short-lived, though, as the Rockets tied the game 28-28 by the end of the first quarter, and took a nine-point lead into halftime.

    It didn't take long for Utah to close the gap in the third period, as they started the second half similarly to how they started the game. Houston gave them a number of open looks, and the Jazz took full advantage. The three-point shot was falling, and they tied the game yet again just four minutes into the third quarter.

    In familiar fashion, this game was back and forth through the rest of the third. Each team had mini runs, but neither was able to officially take over.

    Heading into the fourth quarter, the Jazz had a one-point lead, but Houston came out looking like a new squad. They were turning defense into offense and scoring both at the rim and beyond the three-point line. They took the lead early, and were able to close out the game late with the home crowd behind them.

Point Guards

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    Jeremy Lin, PG, Houston: B+

    Jeremy Lin has been shooting a low percentage from the field on the season, which is why it's necessary for him to successfully distribute the basketball.

    Lin came out in this contest and was making the right passes from the opening minutes. He was finding players at the rim and his passing game looked sharp. He also kept his turnovers under control throughout the entire game.

    As an added bonus, Lin actually shot the ball well and was able to get to the rim. The third quarter saw him take advantage of loose defense, and he attacked the basket to earn the easy buckets.

    He took that same strategy into the fourth and finished with 19 points and eight assists on 7-of-16 shooting.

     

    Mo Williams, PG, Utah : B-

    The point guard battle was won by Jeremy Lin, but Mo Williams also had a solid performance.

    The problem for Williams was that he couldn't make his impact felt throughout the entire game. He had a bit of a hot spurt early when his shots were falling, but then he disappeared until he made two late-game buckets.

    Williams shot the ball extremely well, as he finished with 16 points and seven assists on 7-of-13 shooting.

Shooting Guards

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    Randy Foye, SG, Utah : A

    At one point in the contest, Randy Foye left for the locker room with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Luckily for the Utah Jazz he quickly returned and had one of his best games of the young season.

    The third quarter saw Foye score from all over the floor. He was getting buckets at the rim, drilling shots from behind the arc and he was the team's high scorer heading into the fourth quarter.

    Foye finished with 20 points on an extremely impressive 8-of-11 shooting night. He also had six assists and shot 4-of-6 from the three-point line.

     

    James Harden, SG, Houston: B-

    James Harden is the clear-cut leader of the Houston Rockets, and that fact was evident Saturday night against the Utah Jazz. The ball was seemingly always in his hands, but the problem: his jumper wasn't always falling.

    Nobody is going to claim that Harden is the most efficient player in the league, as he completed just 7-of-16 from the field in this one, including just 1-of-3 from behind the three-point line. He also turned the ball over five times.

    However, it's tough to argue with his overall scoring ability. The 2-guard managed to put up 18 points against the Jazz and it was an isolation finish above the rim that gave Houston the final boost it needed to close out the game.

Small Forwards

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    Chandler Parsons, SF, Houston: B+

    Chandler Parsons has a tendency to play very well, very quietly. That's exactly what he did against the Utah Jazz Saturday night.

    Parsons was extremely efficient in this one. He finished the game with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-5 from behind the three-point line. He didn't have much of an impact on the boards, but that's partly due to the fact that Omer Asik was snatching everything in sight.

    Parsons had a very good game against Utah and he will go down as the guy who gave Utah the dagger. With 13.9 seconds remaining, Parsons nailed a three-pointer from the corner, solidifying the victory.

     


    DeMarre Carroll SF, Utah: F

    Of all five Utah Jazz starters, DeMarre Carroll was the only player who played less than 32 minutes. Playing just 19 minutes on the night, he didn't contribute much in any aspect of the game.

    The small forward finished with just four points and three rebounds, but the bigger issue is that he was extremely inefficient during his time on the floor.

    Carroll shot just 2-of-8 and he was outshined by backup small forward Gordon Hayward.

Power Forwards

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    Patrick Patterson, PF, Houston: B+

    Patrick Patterson ended up playing a huge role in this game, finishing the contest as the team's high scorer with 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting.

    The Houston Rockets' big man didn't shoot all that well from behind the three-point line, as he finished just 2-of-5 from long range. That being said, his two makes came in timely fashion, as the Utah Jazz seemingly forgot that he can make that shot when left wide open.

    Seven rebounds is a number you'd like to see improve as he continues to mature both physically and emotionally, but considering his season average is barely above five per game, you'll take this kind of performance any night of the week.

     

    Paul Millsap, PF, Utah: C-

    Paul Millsap hasn't looked like himself lately, and tonight was a decent example of that.

    Offensively, Millsap didn't look right in this game. He ended the game 3-of-11 from the floor, scored just 12 points and you have to wonder if his looming contract situation is starting to get to him.

    The Utah big man did show spurts of aggression on defense—as well as the offensive glass—but moments of brilliance make you wonder why he just can't do it on a more regular basis.

    Millsap had a bad offensive performance, but that doesn't take away from his 11 rebounds. The forward found himself in the right place at the right time more than once, but give credit where credit's due for anybody who can pull down double-digit boards with Al Jefferson and Omer Asik occupying the middle.

Centers

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    Omer Asik, C, Houston: B+

    It's unlikely that Omer Asik will ever be known for his offense, but we're getting to a point where an occasional standout performance is no longer too surprising.

    Against the Utah Jazz, Asik scored 14 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting, but he also did his damage at the line, going 4-of-5 on his free-throw attempts.

    Doing what he does best, Asik also pulled down 12 rebounds and blocked three shots.

     

    Al Jefferson, C, Utah: B

    If you’re a Utah Jazz fan, you want to see Al Jefferson establish himself on the low block each and every game. In this one, however, the Houston Rockets were giving him the mid-range jumper, and he took advantage early.

    As expected, Jefferson's play would balance out, as he found a way to blend his mid-range and his low-post games. He's an extremely versatile big man and has a tendency to make teams pay from all over the floor.

    He finished the game with 20 points and eight rebounds on 10-of-19 shooting.

Sixth Man

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    Gordon Hayward, SG, Utah: A

    Gordon Hayward played the most minutes of any Utah Jazz reserve by a long shot, but each and every one of those minutes was earned, as he finished the game with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting.

    Hayward's biggest contribution was at the three-point line, where he finished 3-of-5, but his overall aggression was what the team needed out of him most.

    There was one particular sequence in the third quarter that stands out. After attacking the basket and being called for a charge, he came right back the following possession and took it straight at the rim. He didn't shy away following the offensive foul and that one play epitomizes the effort he put forth all game.

     

    Carlos Delfino, SF, Houston: B

    Carlos Delfino didn't have nearly the impact that Hayward had on this game, but he did make his presence felt in the 17 minutes he played. 

    Like Hayward, Delfino's impact was felt shooting the basketball. He finished 3-of-5 from the three-point line and 5-of-7 from the field.

    Delfino pulled down five rebounds and his team was plus-17 in his time on the floor—the best number for anybody in this contest.

Bench

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    Houston Rockets: B+

    The Houston Rockets utilized five players off the bench in their matchup against the Utah Jazz, and while two of them were virtually invisible, three of them put up solid performances.

    Carlos Delfino, Greg Smith and Toney Douglas combined for 34 points. All three of them were extremely efficient as well, shooting 11-of-19 from the floor.

    If you're a Rockets fan, you would have liked to see Marcus Morris contribute more in his 10 minutes, but the reserves as a whole came in and made a difference in this closely contested game.

     

    Utah Jazz: B+

    The Utah Jazz got a fantastic performance off the bench from Gordon Hayward, but they also got a very good showing from Alec Burks.

    Burks scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, and his impact was felt deep into the fourth quarter. He was an integral part of the 9-0 run late in the game, and his willingness to attack the rim is what kept Houston's defense honest.

    Enes Kanter had a number of possessions where he showed the best effort on the floor, and seemingly made plays without impacting the stat sheet. The problem is that he also showed his youthfulness at times, as he found himself in a bad position on more than one occasion.