By Marshall Thomas
Last week, the Jazz came off the All-Star break riding an 11-game win streak, but due to rusty play, Utah’s streak was snapped. Just like the Trail Blazers played spoiler to the Jazz win streak, Utah will look to do the same on Monday night, as the Houston Rockets visit Salt Lake City.
The Rockets, almost quietly, have won 12 games in a row, and while the Warriors win over Oklahoma City took the story-lines this weekend, Houston gathered two quality wins over playoff bound teams.
Monday night will be the fourth time the Jazz have squared off against Houston, owner of the NBA’s best record, with all three of those games ending in double-digit losses. “When you play them, you know, they’re that good,” coach Quin Snyder said at Monday shoot-around. “Anytime you play a team that’s unique you have to adjust, and adjust quickly.”
Snyder caught up with the media at shootaround:
Unique is the right word to describe the Rockets. Houston’s Sunday night victory in Denver not only pusher their win streak to 12, but also their 21st win in 25 games. James Harden, who is showcasing an MVP-type season, scored 43 points, while first-year-Rocket Chris Paul also added 23 points.
Even more impressive, unique, and almost unimaginable stat, is that Houston is 30-1 when Paul, Harden and Clint Capela are all in the lineup.
Derrick Favors was asked about Capela and his role to the Rockets success and what he can provide. “He’s a presence in the paint, sets pick and rolls and gets offensive rebounds. He’s just a good player,” said Favors.
Favors caught up with the media at shootaround:
While Favors and the big-men for Utah will have their hands full with Capela, point-guard Ricky Rubio also faces a challenge with Chris Paul. “He’s one of the best in the league, been around for a long time. He has a lot of weapons around him, and he can do a lot of things,” Rubio commented.
When asked about his hip-injury, Rubio said it felt good.
Rubio caught up with the media at shootaround:
Another story-line as the Jazz prepare to take on the Rockets, is that they’ll be seeing Joe Johnson for the first time since being dealt away from Utah earlier this month. “He’s a good player, good player in his age, he’s a tough match-up for anyone in the NBA,” Favors said.
Johnson is averaging 8.7 PPG in three games with Houston.
The Jazz are coming off a hard-fought match-up on Saturday night, when it took them until the final minute to put away the lowly Dallas Mavericks. Its obvious that the Jazz have lost their step since coming back from the All-Star break, with an opportunity to kick-start another potential hot-streak against the talented Rockets, much like when Golden State came to Utah last month.
The Jazz offense has struggled in their first two games back since the break, failing to crack 100-points so far, and shooting just 40% against Dallas on Saturday.
Monday nights game will be the last time the Jazz see the court until Friday, another pivotal match-up against playoff-bound Minnesota.
While Utah is searching for a win tonight to creep into the playoff standings, there is some bad news for Jazz fans, Harden, Capela and Paul will all be playing Monday night.
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