Led by Donovan Mitchell, the Utah Jazz had a solid outing against the Chris Paul-less Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.
After what happened against Memphis on Monday, the Utah Jazz win in Houston on Wednesday night was like a breath of fresh air. The Jazz showed many promising signs on both sides of the ball during this one.
Offensively, the Jazz were able to move the ball well and create open, high-percentage shots. Donovan Mitchell had his first big game of the season. Last week, his shots were forced and he couldn’t really get going. He was not playing efficiently. Wednesday night was a different story.
Houston’s defense couldn’t stay in front of him, Donovan was living at the rim. He finished the night with 38 points on 14-of-25 shooting. It was good to see him play smart, he took advantage of mismatches and made the right passes at the right times.
Ricky Rubio continues to struggle offensively, he finished with only four points shooting 1-of-8 with six turnovers. The Jazz will need him to start showing up if they want to be elite, but the team knows what he can do and we’ve seen him turn things around before. It may take some time, but it’s way too early to count Ricky out.
Defensively, Utah was impressive. I realize that Houston was without Chris Paul, who has always given the Jazz grief. Nonetheless, the Rockets had a hard time getting anything serious going. They had a few small runs (okay, they got pretty close there in the fourth), but Utah was able to squelch those. The highlight was the second quarter in which Utah held Houston to only 15 points. This gave the Jazz the lead which they never relinquished.
Rudy Gobert was a force inside, altering shots left and right. Perimeter defenders Royce O’Neale, Dante Exum, and Ricky Rubio were exceptional. They held Houston to 27.5 percent from three and only 16 assists. Houston had multiple shot clock violations as they were unable to really get into a groove.
The season is young and this was only one game, but it was fun to see a little bit of what the Jazz are capable of. If they can keep it up, this should be a good road trip for the team.