Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz: Grading Houston's Performance

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Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz: Grading Houston's Performance
Bob Levey/Getty Images
The new Rockets are high-octane, but can they rise in the crowded West?

The 2-0 Houston Rockets traversed the Wasatch Mountains to face the 0-2 Utah Jazz on Saturday night. The Rockets looked out of fuel in the early going, but they stormed out of the locker room for an energetic second half and came away with a 104-93 victory. 

James Harden overcame a rough first half to score 23 points while Dwight Howard posted 15 and nine. Jeremy Lin also turned in a sweet second half and scored 20. While all the Rockets played well down the stretch—outscoring the Jazz 64-37 in the final two quarters—Chandler Parsons single-handedly carried the team through a rotten first half. He had 20 points by the break, equaling the combined scoring from the rest of his team. He finished with a double-double after hauling in a dozen rebounds too.

After a sluggish first quarter, the Rockets fell asleep around the 10-minute mark of the second frame. They allowed the Jazz an 11-2 run in just over two minutes and suddenly found themselves trailing by 13 points. The Jazz also had a 9-0 run later in the quarter and led 56-40 at the break.

Enes Kanter was hotter than sriracha in the first half with 14 points and seven rebounds, including five on the offensive glass. Meanwhile, Houston's dual centers looked punchless as the Jazz held a 27-12 rebounding edge at the break, including nine offensive boards to just one for Houston. The Rockets defense even allowed Richard Jefferson to drop 12 first-half points, and their offense fumbled away 12 turnovers. They had just three assists in 24 minutes. 

Kevin McHale must have had some inspirational words for his charges at halftime, as they were propelled to a scintillating 15-2 run to open the third quarter. Dwight Howard had 10 points in the quarter and James Harden scored nine.

Make no mistake, the Rockets can score a whole bunch in a hurry, but the Jazz adjusted to the attack and salvaged a 76-76 tie heading into the fourth. Ultimately, Utah's defense deteriorated in the fourth quarter. Houston quieted the Jazz and ended the game on a 21-8 run. 

Houston owned the second half, but that clunker of a first half cannot be ignored. Read on for full grades and analysis of the entire Rockets rotation!

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