In a much needed rejuvenation of sorts, the Utah Jazz blew out the Houston Rockets 104-83 snapping a four game losing streak in the process.
Utah played remarkably well, particularly in the second half thanks to a tenacious and much improved Devin Harris, who helped the Jazz ignite offensively in the third quarter.
Leading 49-47, the thrifty point guard (looking every bit like his old All Star self) lobbed a pass to Gordon Hayward who threw down a crowd pleasing left-handed jam. Less than a minute later, Harris took a pass from Josh Howard and nailed a 3-pointer to push the lead to seven. Harris then drew a charge against rival point guard Kyle Lowry, then sliced through Houston’s defense and tossed in a beautiful layup on the ensuing possession. He finished off the 13-3 third quarter run with an alley-oop to Hayward with eight minutes remaining in the period.
By that point the lead had ballooned to 11.
But the game wasn’t over just yet. Early in the fourth the Rockets mounted a mini-run and even closed within nine points (mostly due to 3-pointers). Thankfully, Coach Corbin tossed in 2012 Slam Dunk champion Jeremy Evans who provided the spark Utah needed to close out the game.
Evans finished with four points, three blocks and two assists during his limited time on the court, and proved he was every bit deserving of minutes as his fellow teammates. His monster block in the fourth quarter against Goran Dragic with 9:38 to go brought the crowd to its feet (and also led to a terrific Alec Burks layup). Likewise, his two-handed jam minutes later no doubt left fans wondering why the “Human Pogo-Stick” is saddled with just 5.6 minutes per game.
All in all it was a much needed win for Utah (16-18), one that hopefully instills some confidence as they prepare to host Miami this Friday.
Some key points in tonight’s win:
1) Al Jefferson only scored 14 points – the wings, namely Howard, Hayward and Miles each scored in double digits, the latter netting 27 points off 10-of-16 shooting. When the Jazz push the ball and use Jefferson only when necessary (I.E. inbound plays, or forced half court sets), they look much more rounded and versatile. Then again, if Miles played to his potential every night we’d probably be undefeated …
2) Harris looks a lot more confident these days – he routinely pushed the ball up the court and drove inside. He looked more active and in control. The rest of the team followed suit. Even Matt Harpring commented on their loose style of play.
3) The Jazz’s bench runs deeper than just eight players. When Coach Corbin utilizes EVERY man, the Jazz win ball games. When he settles for rotating players in and out according to his time clock, the Jazz lose. Early in the season everyone on the squad received some playing time – and they stayed on the court as long as they produced effective results. Coach deviated from this last month …
4) Raja Bell and Paul Milsap each sat out due to injuries – along with Jamaal Tinsley, but he never plays anyway – and they were hardly missed. Perhaps Utah’s problem is that they carry too many veterans yearning for playing time. With Bell and Milsap out, Coach Corbin obviously felt little pressure in giving his youngsters a bit more time on the court. Hmmm …