For the team, it’s the seventh win in nine games by the Rockets (36-20), and it clinched the season series and potential tiebreaker versus the Jazz (36-20). The victory moved Houston past Utah for the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference standings, which would mean home-court advantage in at least the first round of the 2020 NBA playoffs.
Houston Rockets on offence
Both guards excelled on drives and from 3-point range, with Harden’s 38 points coming on 6-of-11 (54.5%) shooting from behind the arc. Meanwhile, Westbrook hit 2-of-4 (50.0%) on 3-pointers, representing his first game since Jan. 15 with multiple 3-point makes. The former MVPs combined for 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
— ahhhhhh (dats me yellin) (@NekiasNBA) February 23, 2020
The star duo has started complimenting each other on the court. Jazz tried to double Harden on the perimeter but nothing seems to work for them defensively. Harden and Westbrook are rolling, unique strategies don’t seem to matter to them
“We got two of the best 1-on-1 players in the world. What are you going to do?” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said.
14/26 (53.8 FG%)
2/4 (50 3PT%)
13/23 (56.5 FG%)
6/11 (54.5 3PT%) pic.twitter.com/q6ZKELD6vp
— Justin Jett (@JustinJett_) February 23, 2020
Reserve guards Eric Gordon and Ben McLemore each scored 12 points off the Houston bench, with McLemore making all four of his 3-point attempts. The Jazz was led by 31 points from Donovan Mitchell.
Rockets on defence
Though the smaller Rockets were undersized on paper with 6-foot-5 P.J. Tucker starting at centre against 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert, they only lost the rebounding battle by a 46-42 margin.
Gobert had just six rebounds in his 34 minutes, while defensive ace Robert Covington led the Rockets with 12 boards and 3 blocks in 37 minutes. All three of Covington’s blocks came in the second half against Gobert. Rockets are doing an impressive job of boxing out and pressuring players in the post. This helps them cover up holes in their defence due to their lack of size.
Robert Covington has been incredible as a weak-side rim-protector. He’s always in position, and even if he cheats on help, his length allows him to recover
Ex: there was a defensive miscommunication on the slip, Covington rotates on time & blocks Gobert. pic.twitter.com/MCSvH54ri2
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) February 23, 2020
Houston dominated Utah on both ends of the court in a decisive third quarter, 38-19, and led comfortably for the final 12 minutes.