The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets narrowly lose to Jazz in Houston 114-113
If this the definition of a heartbreaking loss, I don't know what is.
The Rockets legitimately looked like a top tier contender with the way they competed with Utah in the first half. Russell Westbrook and James Harden both took advantage of a spaced floor by getting to the rim at will, Houston's rotations on switches looked much crisper, and shots were falling (23 for 46 from the field).
The second half is where things fell apart. The Rockets got out-rebounded 26 to 20, their defense fell apart at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter, and Houston couldn't hit a three-pointer for long stretches of the second half. On the whole, however, the Rockets competed pretty hard against a really good Western Conference team, but lost. The Jazz just played better in the moments that mattered.
Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker gave the Rockets gave the Rockets a chance with two late three-pointers, but Bojan Bogdanovic hit a really hard three-pointer over two outstretched defenders in less than 1.6 seconds. Houston played a really good team, played hard, and showed some encouraging signs defensively, but they lost on a tough game winner. Sometimes it can really be that simple.
Star of the game: The Rockets struggled offensively in the second half, but it was to no fault of Russell Westbrook. Westbrook logged 39 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal on 18 of 33 shooting from the field and 1 of 2 shooting from three-point range. Like the Lakers game, Westbrook attacked straight one-on-one coverages brilliantly with a spaced floor. The Jazz, rather smartly, placed Rudy Gobert on Westbrook in the first quarter. After the first timeout, the Rockets used Westbrook as a screener as a decent counter.
Honorable mention: It'll go unnoticed, but James Harden actually finished this game with a triple double, logging 28 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal on 11 of 23 shooting from the field. Harden was horrible from three-point range, missing 11 of 13 from deep.
Key moment: The Rockets lost this game midway through the fourth quarter, specifically the 5:56 mark where the Jazz went on a 9-0 run to give them a 107-100 lead at the 3:00 mark. Houston recovered from that and nearly won the game off a P.J. Tucker buzzer beater, but having to recover from that put them behind the 8-ball.
Up next: The Rockets play the Boston Celtics in Houston at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday.