Rockets hand Jazz Worst Home Court Loss in History (125 – 80)

Wow…just…wow! I think tonight might have been the best game the Rockets have had all season. They were great on both ends of the floor and they played with intensity for an entire 48 minutes. It probably also helped that the Jazz were pretty terrible, missing a couple of their key guys: Gordon Hayward and Mo Williams’. But I don’t think these guys would have made much of a difference.

This 45 point defeat eclipsed Utah’s previously worst home court loss set back in 1980 by 12 points. Whenever you win by 45 points, it’s stunning. What makes this even more stunning is how great Utah is at home. They’ve only lost 4 games at home prior to tonight and they’ve been rolling in January owning the fifth or so best record in January. The Rockets, on the other hand have had an awful January, due primarily to a grueling schedule, that left little practice time and a lot of tired legs. So for the Rockets to win in such dominating fashion was very stunning. And I’m sure for long time Rockets fans, this was probably one of the most satisfying wins as a Rockets fan, because of the bitterness Rockets fans have towards the Jazz that date back to Karl Malone. On the broadcast tonight, they mentioned that the teams that the Jazz have faced the most in the playoffs is Houston. So for the Rockets to hand the Jazz their worst home court defeat is something that I’m sure a lot of Rockets fans are still reveling.

Everything clicked for the Rockets tonight, but I want to start with Jeremy Lin. Jeremy started out playing very aggressive. He was penetrating and making plays for himself and for his teammates. He didn’t get to see the Sundance premier of Linsanity, but he was there to take questions and such at the end and was there for the standing ovation. Maybe taking part in that helped remind him of what Linsanity was all about, because Lin came out with more aggression in the first quarter than I’ve seen him all season with the exception of a couple of games, like the Knicks. He went into passive mode again in the second quarter, when Harden started heating up. Then in the third quarter, Lin started heating up again right when McHale took him out of the game for good. Still, Lin ended up with some solid stats: 12 points (Asik’s offensive goal tending took away 2 of Lin’s points), 7 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers in only 24:43 minutes. He was also a perfect 5 of 5 from the field and had a three pointer off a loose ball with time winding down. What was also very impressive about Lin tonight was his ability to help out and double team the Jazz Bigs without sacrificing his on-man defense. I think that was a big factor in shutting down the Jazz Bigs. Lin forced a great jump ball against Jefferson when he came down to help on defense (and the Rockets took possession after the jump ball). It reminded me of a jump ball that Lin forced against Zach Randolph. Harden had a very efficient game with 25 points (a perfect 8 of 8 from the free throw line) in 27:40 minutes (none of the starters played in the fourth). Almost all of Harden’s points were in the paint. It was like a layup drill for Harden. The Jazz just looked confused on defense all night.

Other notable performances of the night: Asik had 19 rebounds; Morris and Delfino were 4 for 6 from three point each.

Some notable team stats:

  • All but two players had a +/- of 11 or more tonight
  • Only 5 turnovers (also had 12 steals, so we had more steals than turnovers)
  • 26 to 2 fast break points
  • 16 of 34 from three-point (Delfino set the tone from three point)
  • 42 points in the paint

The Rockets really needed this win, since the Jazz are a place ahead of them in the standings. With everything clicking tonight and also with an impressive win against the Nets, I think the Rockets are back. I think we can chalk up the losses in January to a grueling (dare I say unfair) schedule with a ridiculous number of back to backs and consecutive road games (no other team in the NBA had the ridiculous schedule that the Rockets had in January). Now that the schedule going forward is much more reasonable, I’m hoping this allows the Rockets to get some practice in in between games and start playing like they did back in December. The Rockets are a team that definitely need the practice time. Being a young squad, they need to be constantly reminded of how to play their brand of basketball, of where to be on the court. Spacing for this team is perhaps the most important aspect of their game, because it allows Lin and Harden room to maneuver and make plays. Spacing is all about knowing where you should be on the court at all times. Now it’s time to get some revenge on the Nuggets!

 

Here’s a well-written summary of the game from Rockets.com’s Jason Friedman:

“James Harden split the double-team and accelerated on his way into the paint before hurling himself into the air to unleash a ferocious, filthy and positively violent tomahawk dunk amid a crowd of helpless, sagging and slump-shouldered Jazz defenders. They knew. Everyone knew. Harden’s jam was not just thrown down in the mug of Utah’s players; it had been forcefully flushed in the faces of the entire franchise and its fan base. It was, of course, just a single play. But when the final horn sounded and the Rockets had finished dooming Utah to a 125-80 defeat – its worst home loss in franchise history – that one play summed up what took place during those 48 jaw-dropping minutes more than mere words ever could.”

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8 thoughts on “Rockets hand Jazz Worst Home Court Loss in History (125 – 80)

  1. Just WOW!!!
    45 point deficit, really really HUGE!
    The first 5 guys are enjoying the bench in the fourth with those 3pointers 🙂
    And JLin, OH that pics…so cute!!! 😉

  2. The 45 point rout is the biggest since 2007 when they defeated the Sixers by 50 points.

    Yeah, the starters were sure enjoying themselves on the bench, going crazy over a barrage of threes that Morris and others kept raining down. But at one point towards the end, Lin actually signaled for the guys to take it easy, since he didn’t want to keep pouring it on and be unsportsmanlike, but I don’t think the guys on the floor were paying attention. Also, by then, it was a little too late anyhow. The guys on the floor that don’t get too much playing time are still trying to prove themselves and earn minutes. So they still played their hearts out up until the end. It was nice to see Anderson out there hitting a couple threes.

  3. This is the one time that I agree with coach KM for sitting down JLin when he was heating up in the third. The way the ball was moving and the shots were falling for the Rox, it was inconceivable that the Jazz could muster a come back. And yes, there is no need to risk injuries to our starters by playing them in the 4th with a 30 something lead.
    Next stop, Denver! And CW will write a game recap for us, right? 🙂

    • Ha ha. Yeah, I agree. No need to have our starters out there and risk injury. I was puzzled why McHale felt the need to bring Harden back in after Harden got hurt on a play and they had to call a 20 second time out late in the 3rd. Should have just sat Harden for good after he got hurt.

      Two tough tests coming up: Denver and Golden State. These games will really show if the Rockets are really back or not.

      • Some fans have suspected that the coaches have been letting Harden pad his stats. In this Jazz game, Jeremy got pulled out after getting 5 points in both the first and third quarters. On the other hand, Harden was put back in in the 3rd quarter when the team had a 29-point lead. Getting back allowed Harden to add 7 more points to get 25 in the end. Also, I remember in a game not long ago, Harden played until there was only about 1.5 minutes left when the team obviously would get a sure win. It was just odd why the coaches wouldn’t rest him and let some bench player step in earlier. Though compared to bench players, Jeremy is in a much better position, people will always measure his efficiency and value mostly by his scoring stats. If the coaches don’t care about Jeremy’s stats, he should really take care of that himself by at least taking more shots. Not having watched much basketball, I figure that starters getting starters’ minutes (perhaps 32?) is essential for creating their good stats. But that doesn’t seem to be a sure thing for Jeremy on the Rockets, who can get pulled out anytime regardless whether he plays well or not.

      • Dunno what the coaches are thinking. May be they are trying to “Jeremy Lin” Harden to death, riding him like “freaking Secretariat”! I hope the vicious hit Harden received in that 3rd quarter serves as a wakeup call for McHale. No athlete is indestructible.

        An 82-game season is a long and grueling war of attrition. McHale has been there before, but may be he has forgotten what it was really like to get through the whole season and then the playoff. Memory is a funny thing. We only selectively remember certain things and remember them in some clouded way.

      • In general, I don’t think coaches care about padding a player’s stats. And McHale definitely doesn’t strike me as the type of coach that is concerned whatsoever of helping a player pad his stats. I think McHale just plays Harden, because he doesn’t trust anyone to play Harden’s position on the team. That’s really the only reason why Harden gets so many minutes. I think in the Jazz game, McHale just wanted to make sure that we keep a big lead going into the fourth so he can sit his starters. He didn’t want any let up going into the fourth and that’s why he went back to Harden. But I think it was a mistake. After Harden got hurt, McHale should have just sat Harden, because we had such a big lead. I think after such a terrible January, McHale wanted to win big to build on the guys’ confidence.

        Another reason I know McHale doesn’t care about padding Harden’s stats is that in the game in which Harden ended his 25+ point streak, Harden only needed like two points or something to keep the streak going, but McHale sat Harden early in the fourth. If McHale cared about padding Harden’s stats, he would have kept Harden in the game to get his 25+ points and continue his scoring streak. Even I was questioning McHale for not keeping Harden in the game so he could keep his scoring streak going. I can tell Harden really wanted to stay in to keep his scoring streak going. It didn’t matter, though, because in the next game, Harden wasn’t anywhere near scoring 25 points. The end of Harden’s 25+ scoring streak marked the beginning of his little slump that he’s getting over. A small part of me thinks that Harden was a little bothered by the fact that McHale didn’t allow him to keep his scoring streak going and that was a tiny factor in his mini slump.

        Also, in the Jazz game, McHale sat Asik when Asik was just one rebound away from his career high. He had 19 rebounds and has never gotten to 20 rebounds in his career.

        Coaches are really only concerned about winning or achieving the goals set out for them by the owner/GM. That’s all they care about. In general, they really don’t care about a player’s stats in terms of padding it. They do care about a player’s stats in terms of figuring out who to play how many minutes, etc.

  4. People made the padding-stats speculation because they couldn’t get Mchale’s reasoning behind his time management of his starters. When everyone made the judgement based on one’s common sense, Mchale didn’t. Well, I think snapping the 25+ point streak isn’t as serious as not getting 20, since it would be quite unrealistic to want to keep it going (for how much longer?). Today I learned the news that says that Melo has broken the Knicks’ history by getting over 20 points for 30 consecutive games. Melo probably has never had Harden’s 25+ record–I suppose.

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