The Utah Jazz opened the 2014-15 season on Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets at Energy Solutions Arena. The Jazz entering the game with a rookie point guard out of Australia, a three-point shooter from Duke, a new max contract for Gordon Hayward and a new Head Coach in Quin Snyder. The Jazz couldn’t get it done in the opener 104-93. The game started on the wrong foot for the Jazz as they allowed Dwight Howard to score 12 points in the first quarter. We were all tied up at the end of the first quarter at 27. The second quarter, the Jazz came out flat shooting 6 three-pointers and only hitting 1 of them. Despite that, the Jazz were able to shoot 60% heading into the locker room down by 8 points. Alec Burks led the Jazz with 10 points in the first half on 3 of 4 shooting from the field and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. Dwight Howard had 15 and the Rockets already had 3 guys in double figures (Howard, Kostas Papanikolaou – 12 and James Harden – 10). The Jazz outscored the Rockets 22-17 in the third quarter led by Trey Burke who consistently attacked the rim to bring the Jazz to within 3 at the end of the third quarter 75-72. The Jazz felt like they had a chance but then the 3’s started flying from Houston and the Rockets outscored the Jazz 29-21 giving them the 104-93 win improving their record to 2-0.
Alec Burks had 18 points, 6 of 11 shooting in 36 minutes. Trey Burke added 15 points, 4 assists in 38 minutes. Derrick Favors had 16 points, 7 rebounds on 7 of 10 shooting and 4 blocks in 27 minutes. Dwight Howard had 22 points, 10 rebounds on 10 of 16 shooting in 32 minutes. Trevor Ariza scored 20 points, 5 rebounds, 7-10 from the field and 4 of 7 from downtown. James Harden had 18 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds on 6 of 18 shooting in 38 minutes.
The rookies played well in their debuts. Dante Exum had 5 points on 2 of 3 shooting in just under 10 minutes of action while Rodney Hood had 5 points on 2 of 6 shooting and 1 of 4 from downtown.
The player that really stood out to me was Trevor Booker. Booker had a great debut with the Jazz putting up 14 points, 5 rebounds on 6 of 10 shooting in 23 minutes. He also defended the paint really well and made his presence known on the defensive end as the Jazz struggled to defend the Rockets.
The Jazz need to work on defense. There was too many times when the Rockets had open threes or open layups and not enough help. I also want to see more out of Gordon Hayward, after getting a max contract he shouldn’t be putting up only 8 points on 3 of 11 shooting. I was pleased with the other things he did on the floor, he had 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Look for Hayward to have a better showing on Thursday night.
Up next for the Jazz is a quick turnaround as they hit the road to take on the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks are coming off a 101-100 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, look for the Mavericks to get the bad taste out of their mouth. I think the Jazz will have a better showing against Dallas. But again as Coach Snyder has said time and time again, it is a process. Tipoff in Dallas is at 6:30 Thursday night.
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