Utah Jazz vs. Houston Rockets: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Houston
The Houston Rockets came into their game against the Utah Jazz with a point to prove; that they're on par with the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls or even the Oklahoma City Thunder in that they can beat teams when they're down.
That's about what happened in this Houston-Utah first-half massacre.
With James Harden leading the onslaught, Houston took a 19-point lead into halftime and never really looked back.
Utah watched as the Rockets zoomed up and down the court, jammed the ball into the lane and then kicked it out to the three-point line, rebounded like crazy and got to the line.
The Jazz and their slow-footed offense, reeling defense and general sense of softness over the past two weeks were absolutely out-matched against a team that plays the perfect game to take them down.
Houston never trailed in this one, starting off the game with a few quick buckets, and the game was never closer than three points after halfway through the first quarter.
Once we got to the point where it was obvious that no Jazz run was coming with just a few minutes left in the third quarter, it was coasting the rest of the way.
Unfortunately, the coasting came as the Jazz were heating up, and they ran the game within six points late in the fourth quarter.
Free throws and a few lucky bounces helped Houston to the win, but they felt the heat in this 100-93 victory.
Jeremy Lin: A
Stat Line: 24 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, 9-of-13 shooting
The Houston Rockets didn't need much more than regular sanity from Jeremy Lin for most of the game Wednesday night, as he was able to help James Harden a bit on the initial run and coast with the team the rest of the way.
If anything, it probably seemed like a half-day for Lin and the Rockets, as he only played 22 minutes through the third quarter, and probably could have gotten away with playing even fewer.
Unfortunately, Houston took its foot off the gas, and Lin had to step things up.
Possibly the most impressive portion of Lin's night was defensively, as he held the bigger, stronger Mo Williams in check for the entire game, taking him apart and forcing him into bad shots when he did decide to put a few up.
Lin's night was in no way flashy statistically aside from his scoring, but it was exactly the evening that the Rockets hope to get out of him night in and night out.
James Harden: B+
Stat Line: 29 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 5-of-14 shooting, 17-of-18 free throws
James Harden scored 20 points in the first half, so all of 29 points on 5-of-14 shooting has to be a huge disappointment, right?
Well, not necessarily.
The Houston Rockets got out to a huge lead in the first half thanks to the amazing play by Harden, getting to the rim, scoring and, most importantly, getting to the free-throw line.
Harden had a somewhat characteristic poor shooting night, but it was one in which he completely made up for it by getting to the free-throw line and putting down a few long balls.
Sure, he could have taken fewer long jumpers, and he was playing terrible defense most of the night, but it was a game we've come to expect from Harden.
While he was thoroughly dominant for long enough, he didn't hold out for the entire game, so his stat line looks a bit deflated.
The only problem was that Houston's offense slowed down incredibly over the course of the fourth quarter, and the defense from Harden was as lackluster as usual, giving the Jazz a way to get back into this one.
Of course, his ability to consistently hit free throws helped the Rockets walk away with a win.
Chandler Parsons: C+
Stat Line: 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 5-of-10 shooting
Like most of the rest of his teammates, Chandler Parsons had a fine night for the Houston Rockets, but he didn't get out and gallop with Harden and Lin in the first half, and he didn't help continue the torrid scoring in the second half.
Parsons played a fine role for Houston, but they're getting to the point where they want more out of Parsons, and he didn't give them much more in this one.
He scored a bit, and shot a fine percentage, but Parsons wasn't able to show that he's a consistent three-point scoring threat, and his defense on Gordon Hayward was horrible at times.
Parsons needs to realize that he's a big, physical forward, and he can use his size advantage for a huge leg-up on his man.
Until he realizes that, Parsons is going to have to realize that there's a ton of his game left to work on.
Donatas Motiejunas: D+
Stat Line: 5 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, 2-of-8 shooting
It was an...interesting night for Donatas Motiejunas, and that's putting it nicely.
When really evaluating the evening he had, you've got to take into account that he's a rookie who was playing in his 31st game of the season and just his 10th start of the year.
Defensively, he's not good. Trying to check Paul Millsap all night was a ton of work, chasing him inside and outside, but he usually has a solid offensive game to make up for his lackluster defensive performance.
Wednesday night wasn't one of those evenings.
Motiejunas scored on just two of his eight shot attempts, missed three of his four three-pointers and went 0-of-2 from the free-throw line, throwing together just five points and five blocks on the night.
It was a rough one for Donuts.
Omer Asik: B
Stat Line: 9 points, 12 rebounds, 1 block, 3-of-8 shooting
Al Jefferson scored Wednesday night, but he didn't do it efficiently, and he didn't do it without having a giant Turkish dude in his grille all night long.
Jefferson shot 9-of-19 from the floor, getting all of 18 points on those 19 shots, and he went to the free-throw line for just a single freebie.
Give Omer Asik a ton of credit for his ability to disrupt Jefferson's ability to get position, and his incredible defensive footwork to keep up with Jefferson and not foul him.
Asik's offensive night wasn't terrific, as he rarely has a great night on the offensive end of the floor, but his defense was a huge reason why the team didn't completely collapse.
The big Turk was the backbone of the team in this one, and he was a particularly rigid spine Wednesday night.
Sixth Man, Carlos Delfino: B-
Stat Line: 9 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 4-of-8 shooting
As far as efficiently scoring goes, Carlos Defino had an above-average night and really did what he was expected to do for the Rockets.
A perpetually up-and-down scorer, Delfino could have easily come in and fallen completely flat, or gone off for a huge night, but he did neither, putting together an incredibly average night, which was just what the Rockets needed.
They were getting plenty of scoring from Jeremy Lin and James Harden, so there wasn't much need for him to force the issue, and when he got the ball in his hands, he put it in the bucket.
Sure, Delfino made just one of his five three-point attempts, but he was routinely putting the ball on the floor and going into the teeth of the defense, either kicking it out or throwing up a floater in the lane.
Plus he had a pretty good defensive game for Houston; that's something the team definitely needed.
Stat Line: 23 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 6 steals, 1 block, 10-of-23 shooting
Aside from Carlos Delfino, Houston's bench was incredibly mediocre, even though it didn't see a ton of action.
Patrick Beverly was easily the star of the rest of the bench, coming up with some big steals, forcing the issue on a few fast breaks and adding an easy seven points, but that's about it as far as bench production goes.
Breaking it down, Greg Smith continues to lose time to Thomas Robinson, who is using that time to show that he's a capable rebounder and a moderately improved defender, but not much else.
While Smith made one of his two shot attempts, Robinson dropped in just two of his seven shots, all while pulling down six rebounds.
Not a terrible showing from the bench, but there were definitely some holes that needed to be filled.