Final Score: Jazz 100, Rockets 89
- There’s no debating Donovan Mitchell struggled mightily to start this season. He’s been forcing shots, playing wild at times, and hasn’t looked like he did in his rookie year. Tonight, he threw all that out the window, as he played with confidence and poise. Mitchell started off early in the game with a floater, pull-up three, and got to the free throw line with ease. He had 20 points at halftime, and finished with a game-high 38. Tonight was Spida’s eighth career 30 point game.
- Rudy Gobert may be the rightful owner of the Defensive Player of the Year award, but his offensive post game still is in need of dire work. A few times tonight (and against Memphis) he struggled with the ball near the rim, looking quite awkward with what should be fairly easy shots. I have an easy solution for the big man: just dunk the ball.
- Royce O’Neale and Dante Exum were used exclusively in last year’s playoff series to guard James Harden, and despite Harden’s total of 29 points, both guys continued to defend him well when on the floor. Those two matchups are definitely something to keep an eye on in future games between these teams.
- I don’t really know what to say about Ricky Rubio. HIs start to the season has been absolutely dismal. He had six assists tonight, but also six turnovers and shot 1-8 from the field. Any inconsistencies that may show with Utah’s starting unit will first and foremost point to the play of Rubio.
- A key factor heading into tonight’s game was the absence of Chris Paul due to the scuffle at Staples on Saturday night. Houston wasn’t only down CP3 but also Marquese Chriss, Brandon Knight, and Nene. Paul was of course the biggest loss of the bunch, as Houston looked out of sorts more than a few times in this game without him. Harden heading to the locker room with five minutes to go in the 4th all but eliminated the Rockets chances of having a chance late in the game.
- Harden was in early foul trouble, but the MVP did MVP things with 29 points, five rebounds, and seven assists. He did however have seven turnovers, likely as a result of losing CP3 and having to be in more unwelcoming situations with Utah’s defense. Harden left the game with an unfortunate injury late in the 4th quarter, which is something to watch for Houston coming up.
- In a game where you’re missing a key player like CP3, it’s important to have other guys step up. Tonight for Houston Carmelo Anthony did just that with 22 points on 9-17 shooting. Eric Gordon, on the other hand, struggled from the field, shooting 5-21 for 11 points.
- It’s probably fair to say free throws were lopsided in this game. Entering tonight Utah ranked first in the league in getting to the free throw stripe, whereas Houston was 14th. That trend continued as the Jazz shot a total of 28 free throws to the Rockets’ 14.