JAZZ BEAT ROCKETS

Critical lessons learned from Rockets' 122-91 loss to Jazz

Critical lessons learned from Rockets' 122-91 loss to Jazz
Another tough loss for Houston. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

This game was filled with mistakes that this young core of the Houston Rockets must learn from. Mistakes on the offensive glass, miscommunication on defense, turnovers, and ball placement hurt the Rockets throughout the game. The Utah Jazz are the veterans with experience, as they played with great IQ and communication, which is something this young core can learn from.

The Rockets had no pace and struggled to generate shots in the first half and second half. They finished with a -31 as a whole on defense and offense. The Jazz were able to capitalize on every mistake this young core made. Mostly in the first half it was just fastbreaks and open three-point shooting. Shockingly, the Jazz only had 14 points on fastbreaks and shot the three-ball at 35 percent.

"The way they defend, and what they allow you to get, you're going to have to shoot well to get them or your going to have to get layups in transition and beat them down the floor," Coach Silas said. "And the other end is figuring out a way to eliminate their three-point shots. The second shots killed us and their size in the inside on our switching killed us as well."

The Rockets also struggled with the rebounding, as it was 58-41 Jazz in that category. Things become easier when you have a stronger Rudy Gobert out-rebounding a frail Christian Wood. Gobert created a ton of a space in the paint for passing lanes and rebounds. He had great screens that allowed Bojan Bogdanovic to have great looks at the basket from the perimeter.

The Jazz capitalized on the switching terminology on defense and offense, which still confuses the Rockets. Also not communicating on defense hurt the Rockets a lot, which created open passing lanes and shots for Joe Ingles, Gobert, and Bogdanovic. Watching the ball movement and communication that the Jazz displayed showed great team cohesiveness, as they've been together for three-five years. Their team chemistry is something the Rockets must copy for future purposes.

Jalen Green did struggle but stayed aggressive throughout the night. He finally got opportunities to shoot free throws, as he was 77 percent in that area. Green is still struggling to find his shot in the NBA, but he did manage to have a career night versus the Boston Celtics with 30 points and eight made threes, which surpassed the Rockets' rookie record. In due time, Green will be able to make the most of his shots. He shot 3 of 16 (18.7 percent) from the field against Utah.

The things that I adore about Green is his aggressive nature, as he is averaging 14.2 points per game on 34.7 percent shooting from the field. He is averaging 15 attempts per game and doesn't care if he is missing or making. Green doesn't want to depend on the free throw line, as he wants all his strengths to come from his shooting. He creates great space between him and the defender because of his step backs and elite first step towards the rim. After his one-on-one session with John Wall, Green discussed the missed calls on him.

"I understand I'm a rookie and I'm not going to get calls like that. It's a man's league, anyway. I just have to be strong and keep playing aggressive."

As for this Rockets team, it's one step at a time.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Allen had high praise for Diggs. Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images.

Impersonal as it might seem to have their dynamic on-field relationship end with an exchange of phone texts, Bills quarterback Josh Allen made it clear on Thursday how much receiver Stefon Diggs meant to him during their four seasons together in Buffalo.

Allen made no mention of Diggs’ mercurial temperament or the occasional sideline flare-ups by expressing only praise in his first opportunity to discuss his now-former teammate being traded to the Houston Texans earlier this month.

“Just thanking him for everything that he did for me, and (I’ll) always have a spot in my heart for him. I’ll always love that guy like a brother. And I wish him nothing but the best,” Allen said, in disclosing what he texted to Diggs. “My lasting memory of Stef will be the receiver that helped me become the quarterback that I am today.”

Brought together in March 2020, when Buffalo gave up a first-round draft pick to acquire Diggs in a trade with Minnesota, the duo went on to re-write many of Buffalo's single-season passing and scoring records, and lead the team to four straight AFC East titles.

Diggs, now 30, also brought an inescapable sense of drama with him in raising questions about his commitment to the Bills and whether his tight relationship with Allen had soured.

A day before being traded, Diggs posted a message, “You sure?” on the social media platform X in response to someone suggesting he wasn’t essential to Allen’s success.

Whatever hard feelings, if any, lingered as Buffalo opened its voluntary workout sessions this week were not apparent from Allen or coach Sean McDermott, who also addressed reporters for the first time since Diggs was traded.

“Stef’s a great player, really enjoyed our time together. Won a lot of games and he was a huge factor in winning those games. We’ll miss him,” McDermott said. “You never replace a player like Stef Diggs, and we wish him well.”

Allen turned his focus to the future and a Bills team that spent much of the offseason retooling an aging and expensive roster.

Aside from trading Diggs, salary cap restrictions led to Buffalo cutting respected center Mitch Morse, the breakup of a veteran secondary that had been together since 2017, and the team unable to afford re-signing No. 2 receiver Gabe Davis.

“I don’t think it’s a wrong thing or a bad thing to get younger,” said Allen, entering his seventh NFL season. “I think it’s an opportunity for myself to grow as a leader. And to bring along some of these young guys and new guys that we’ve brought in to our team. And that’s an opportunity, frankly, that I’m very excited about."

Despite the departures, the Bills offense is not exactly lacking even though general manager Brandon Beane is expected to target selecting a receiver with his first pick — currently 28th overall — in the draft next week.

Receiver Khalil Shakir enters his third year and tight end Dalton Kincaid enter his second following promising seasons. Buffalo also added veteran experience in signing free agent receiver Curtis Samuel and Mack Hollins.

While Beane acknowledged the Bills lack a true No. 1 receiver, he noted there’s less urgency to fill that spot now than in 2020 because of how much the offense has developed under Allen.

“Now that Josh has ascended to the player he is, is that a requirement? I don’t think so,” Beane said.

Diggs’ role also began diminishing in the second half of last season, which coincided with Joe Brady replacing Ken Dorsey as offensive coordinator. Brady placed an emphasis on adding balance to a pass-heavy attack and getting more receivers involved, which led to an uptick in production for Shakir and Kincaid.

While Diggs’ numbers dropped, Buffalo’s win total increased.

With the Bills at 6-6, Diggs ranked third in the NFL with 83 catches, seventh with 969 yards and tied for third with eight TDs receiving. Buffalo then closed the season with five straight wins in which Diggs combined for 24 catches for 214 yards and no scores.

”(Diggs) meant a lot. You look at the statistics, they don’t lie,” Allen said, in referring to Diggs topping 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons in Buffalo. “I don’t get paid to make changes on the team. I get paid to be the best quarterback that I can be and try to lead the guys on this team.”

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome