Tuesday, March 18, 2014
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Rockets resume home dominance, rout Jazz

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[March 18, 2014]  HOUSTON — On the heels of a three-game road losing skid, the Houston Rockets reset their high-scoring offense against an opponent that was all too ripe for exploiting.

The Rockets turned an offensive clinic into a recuperative performance, torching the spiraling Utah Jazz 124-86 Monday night at Toyota Center.

Houston forward Terrence Jones scored 13 of his 30 points in the third quarter as the Rockets (45-22) extended their home winning streak to a season-high nine games.

Utah (22-46) lost for the 10th time in 11 games.

The Rockets' point guard tandem of Patrick Beverley (19) and Jeremy Lin (17) combined for 36 points on just 19 shots. Houston center Omer Asik recorded his first double-double since April 14, 2013, pairing 12 points with 11 rebounds in the place of injured All-Star Dwight Howard.

"Obviously everyone knows what Omer can do. He did it for so many games last year," Rockets guard James Harden said. "He just doesn't get that opportunity with Dwight (starting), but whenever he has the opportunity, he's so professional as far as when Dwight is out. It's Omer's time to step up, and he still gets a double-double. It's great to have that combination of bigs."

Jones nearly scored his 13 third-quarter points in succession, his run of effectiveness snapped only by an Asik dunk off a pick-and-roll at the 8:29 mark that pushed Houston to a 71-49 lead. By the time Jones converted through forward Richard Jefferson's foul with 6:49 left in the third, he had outscored Utah 15-10 in the period, and Houston led 75-51.

The Rockets followed a five-game winning streak with losses at Oklahoma City, Chicago and Miami. Against Utah, Houston shot a season-best 58.2 percent (46-for-79), including 13-for-25 from behind the 3-point arc. Houston recorded 31 assists, three off its season high.

"We had a dry spell there for three games," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "They came home tonight and took care of business.

"We're getting down now to 15 games, and this is really your preparation for the playoffs. Every time we come in and everything we do, we've got to be really sharp."

Guard Alec Burks and center/forward Derrick Favors scored 15 points apiece to lead the Jazz. Swingman Gordon Hayward chipped in 11 points, while rookie point guard Trey Burke added 10 but on 4-for-13 shooting.

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Utah allowed 30 fast-break points to fuel the Rockets' attack. The Jazz were outrebounded 46-34 and outscored in the paint 58-34.

"I don't know if it was a lack of effort or more of a lack of execution," Hayward said. "We didn't take anything away from them. They got anything they wanted. They got dunks, kick-out 3s, pull-ups in midrange. They scored (124) points. That's about it."

Burke scored the opening basket of the game, but the Rockets claimed the lead for good when Jones drilled the first of his three 3-pointers 58 seconds later. The Rockets won every period en route to establishing a season high for margin of victory. The Jazz set their season mark for largest margin of defeat, eclipsing a 33-point setback at Atlanta on Dec. 20.

"It was a tough loss for us," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We didn't play our best basketball, and it's frustrating to be losing. We don't want to fall in love with losing. We have to fight with everything we have."

NOTES: Houston C Dwight Howard missed his first game of the season due to a mild left ankle strain. Howard averaged 18.6 points and 12.4 rebounds while participating in all 66 games prior to Monday night. C Omer Asik earned his first starting assignment since Nov. 11. ... Utah F Marvin Williams started in place of F/C Enes Kanter to provide the Jazz a better matchup against Rockets F Terrence Jones. Williams started in each of his previous 46 games before playing 26 minutes off the bench Sunday in a loss at San Antonio. ... While his points, rebounds and assists remain largely unchanged, Jazz rookie G Trey Burke improved him shooting since the All-Star break, posting a line of .424/.350/.938 over his past 15 games. He took a step back Monday with a poor shooting performance from the floor, though he made his only free throw.

[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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