Utah Jazz Facing Houston Rockets For First Time Since 2019 Postseason Exit
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Fresh off of four straight wins, the Utah Jazz will face the Houston Rockets for the first time of the 2019-20 season as well as the first time since suffering a 4-1 series defeat in the 2019 NBA Playoffs.
Utah hosts Houston at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Monday, January 27.
The Jazz have yet to play the Rockets this season. The two teams last met during the first round of the 2019 NBA postseason. Houston soundly defeated Utah four games to one.
The Rockets opened the Western Conference’s first-round matchup with Jazz by taking a 3-0 lead. Wanting to prevent a series sweep, Donovan Mitchell carried the Jazz to a 107-91 victory in game four at home. In the win, Mitchell scored 19 of his 31 points during the fourth quarter.
Houston halted Utah’s comeback attempt with a 100-93 win in game five to advance to the Western Conference semifinals.
After the season-ending loss, then-general manager and current Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey said the franchise would look to add “a sniper at any position” during the offseason to combat Utah’s weaknesses exposed by the Rockets.
Utah would go on to trade for veteran guard and borderline all-star Mike Conley from the Memphis Grizzlies. The Jazz would then sign forward Bojan Bogdanovic at the start of free agency.
Conley recently returned to the court after missing a month due to a hamstring injury. He is averaging 12.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in 26 games this season.
Bogdanovic is averaging 21.1 points per contest this season. He’s been able to provide the Jazz offense more spacing by shooting 45.2 percent overall and 41.6 percent from downtown this season.
After a slow start to the season, Lindsey and Jazz general manager Justin Zanik acquired veteran sixth man Jordan Clarkson from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Clarkson is scoring 14.3 percent points per game off the bench this season.
45 games into the 2019-20 season, the Jazz own the second-best record in the Western Conference and sit four games ahead of the Rockets in the standings.
Four Jazzmen (Georges Niang, Royce O’Neale, Joe Ingles, and Bogan Bogdanovic) rank among the top 25 NBA players in three-point shooting this season.
The new-look Jazz are still led by Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell who are having all-star caliber season.
Gobert is averaging 15.7 points on 68.9 percent shooting this season. He is recording 14.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 2.0 blocks per contest.
Mitchell leads the Jazz in scoring with 24.7 points on 45.9 percent shooting including 38.9 percent from behind the arc. He ranks No. 14 in scoring in the league. He is averaging 4.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.1 steals a game.
Houston also looks different than the 2018-19 Rockets that defeated the Jazz in the playoffs. After a 4-2 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the postseason, the Rockets also made offseason changes to their roster.
Point guard Chris Paul was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for all-star Russell Westbrook.
Forward Kenneth Faried was waived.
Former Jazzman Thabo Selofosha, forward Ryan Anderson, and center Tyson Chandler all signed offseason deals with Southwest Divison squad.
The Rockets are led by James Harden who scores a league-best 36.1 points per game.
Westbrook ranks No. 10 in league scoring with 25.8 points. He is also averaging 8.1 rebounds and 7.4 assists per contest.
Houston plays Utah on the second game of a back-to-back. The Rockets fell 117-110 to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, January 26.
Harden is doubtful for the game with a thigh injury and Westbrook is expected to sit.
The Rockets own a 28-17 overall record and are 13-10 away from H-Town.
Utah sits at 32-13 on the season and 18-3 at home.
The Jazz and Rockets are scheduled to tip-off on Monday, January 27 at 7 p.m. (MDT). The game will broadcast on NBATV and 97.5 FM.
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