NBA Analysis: Rockets Beat Jazz, Look to Soar into Playoffs

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Everyone is focused on the Final Four this time of year and the Rockets have four on their mind as well.

Four consecutive wins. That is where the Rockets stand after Sunday night’s 110 – 108 win over the Utah Jazz. The victory helped Houston surpass Utah for ninth place in the Western Conference and pull within a game and half of the eighth place Memphis Grizzlies

The Rockets jumped out to an early lead and were able to hold off a late push by the Jazz who were led by Paul Milsap’s 35 pints and 10 rebounds. The Jazz did their best to come out with a road victory but it is evident that these teams are headed in opposite directions. Since the All-Star break the Jazz are 5-8 compared to the Rocket’s record of 11-3.

Player of the Game: Kyle Lowry
Lowry went off tonight with 28 points, but his night was about more than just scoring. Lowry recorded his first career triple-double, which was also the first for the Rockets this season. With each passing game the deal to trade away Aaron Brooks looks better and better. Lowry has become aggressive offensively and seems comfortable knowing that he is the team’s go-to point guard. Tonight he played his most complete game of the season and was the game’s most consistent shooter going 9-of-14 for the game and 3-of-4 from deep. Kevin Martin led the team in scoring with 34 points but he also had 18 points from the line. In addition, Lowry was more consistent in the third quarter when the Jazz were making a push to come from behind.

Play of the Game: Kyle Lowry Three Points the Ol’ Fashioned Way/ Budinger Injury
1. Lowry’s jump shot with a little over two minutes left in the fourth quarter was the last Rockets field of the game. Lowry was able to create just enough space between him and Devin Harris before sinking a difficult midrange jumper and drawing the foul. He then followed up the shot by sinking a free throw to push the lead to 98-90. The Rockets played poor defense in the final two minutes but Lowry’s jump shot and good free throw shooting was enough to close out the game.
2. Budinger’s injury had little impact on the outcome of this game but it may play a large role in the Rockets’ future plans. Budinger came up limp after a baseline drive in the second quarter that resulted in a turnover. He was unable to return to the game and was helped off the court. The injury appeared to be a sprain to the left ankle and may see Chase miss a few games.

Things I Noticed
- I have been a firm supporter of Jordan Hill this season but it appears as though Patrick Patterson has taken over the role of back-up big man. He also seems to have more upside than Hill because he has a better jump shot and rebounding ability. Patterson finished tonight as the game’s leading rebounder with 13. The rookie was also very efficient from the field shooting 7-of-11 with 14 points. He has done a good job filling in for Luis Scola who returned tonight from a knee injury.
- Scola looked sluggish in his return. He had only four points in 20 minutes of playing time and it appears as though Adelman will give him a few extra games before he is back up to his normal playing time.
- Houston’s team free throw shooting was top notch tonight going 36-of-41. They hit all the clutch free throws down the stretch and Kevin Martin went a ridiculous 18-of-18 from the line.
- Houston is playing like a team on a mission and seems determined to catch the Grizzlies for the 8th and final spot in the West. However, they need to improve their defense all around, but especially in the fourth quarter.