Rockets hand Jazz worst home loss, 125-80By LYNN DeBRUIN, AP Sports Writer Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—The Houston Rockets had plenty of trouble getting to Salt Lake City as a blizzard left them grounded for a while in western Colorado.
Once they arrived, they made the Jazz pay, rolling to a 125-80 victory on Monday night and handing Utah the most-lopsided home loss in franchise history.
“We could have had Michael Jordan in his prime with us tonight . and it wouldn’t have mattered (the way we played),” Jazz center Al Jefferson lamented.
“It was like everything went wrong. They came ready to play. I don’t know where our energy was.”
The Rockets, after recently suffering through a seven-game slide, are out of that funk. They have now won three straight and four of their last five.
“That’s the way we have to play,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “We have to play with pace. We have to move the ball. The ball can’t get sticky. It’s got to go from side to side. And guys just got to make plays.”
James Harden continued to do most of the damage, scoring 25 points despite sitting the entire fourth quarter with the rest of the Rockets starters.
Harden, selected as an All-Star for the first time recently, has averaged 27.2 points in his last five games.
When he wasn’t driving the lane, the Rockets were pouring in 3-pointers.
They hit 16 of 34 on the night to tie their season high for shots made beyond the arc.
But it was their pace that floored the Jazz, outscoring Utah 26-2 on the break.
“That’s how we play,” Harden said. “If you watch Rockets basketball, you know we get out in transition and we get some stops. We just try to do a good job of that for 48 minutes.”
The Rockets held Utah to 39.5 percent shooting, and the Jazz made just 5 of 18 3-pointers.
Every Rockets player scored, including six in double figures, with Morris adding 16 and Delfino 14.
“It was just fun because everyone was getting involved,” said Chandler Parsons who added 12 points. “And it was right from the tip. We wanted to emphasize transition defense and taking care of the ball. We did those two things beautifully tonight and played unselfish. Everyone was just having fun out there and it’s a lot more fun to play that way.”
Houston led by 21 points in the second, by 35 in the third and kept pouring it on in the fourth.
The Rockets closed the third with three straight 3s—two by Morris and one by Harden—then saw Morris drain another 3 to open the fourth.
By then the fans were already booing and heading for the exits.
“We should have been booing ourselves,” said Jefferson, who had 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
Randy Foye led Utah with 12 points.
Utah’s previous most-lopsided loss at home was by 33 points to Milwaukee on Nov. 18, 1980. It was the fifth worst overall for the franchise.
“I don’t think this ruins us,” said Gordon Hayward who did not play because of a sprained shoulder.
Still, the Jazz hardly looked like the team that had won nine of their previous 12.
They had been undefeated at home in January—6-0—with their last loss in Salt Lake City coming Dec. 28 against the Los Angeles Clippers in which they blew a 21-point lead.
Unlike the Jazz, the Rockets weren’t about to blow this one.
“I think this is something we definitely needed,” said guard Jeremy Lin who took only five shots Monday but made all five to finish with 12 points.
It was a special trip for Lin, who arrived in Salt Lake City early enough Sunday night to slip in for the last screening of the documentary “Linsanity” during the Sundance Film Festival.
The movie premiered about a year after Lin began catapulting to worldwide stardom in New York. He was an afterthought only a month before, cut by the Rockets on Christmas Day and claimed by the Knicks off waivers.
If his rise to fame was crazy, so was Monday’s game.
“It’s a testament to how the ball moved tonight and how everyone was looking for everybody. When you have a team play like that, play so unselfishly, it’s a beautiful thing to watch,” Lin said.
NOTES: Eighty-nine-year-old Wataru Misaka, the first player of Asian descent to play in the NBA, was at Monday’s game to watch Lin warm up. Misaka, once discriminated against because of his Japanese ancestry, recalled writing Lin a note of encouragement “when he was with Oakland back in the dark days when things didn’t look too good for him. He didn’t have all these fans at this time but he’s made a lot of progress since then and I think he’s in a much better place now.” Misaka, who lives in nearby Bountiful, is a former point guard who played for the New York Knicks in the 1947-48 season and led the University of Utah to the 1944 NCAA championship. “He broke a lot of barriers and racial stereotypes,” Lin told the Houston Chronicle of Misaka. “You have to pay respect to the people who came before you.” Lin is the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent.