SALT LAKE CITY – After upsetting the league’s top team on the road Wednesday, the Jazz were soundly defeated after returning home for game three Friday night. Houston grabbed onto a large lead early, outscoring the Jazz by 22 in the first quarter and eventually leading 38 in its 113-92 win.
Houston’s lopsided lead was built in a hurry. After a 3-pointer from Utah’s Joe Ingles in the game’s opening seconds, the Rockets responded with a 19-2 run. Utah head coach Quin Snyder said Houston began the game with an urgency he didn’t see from his own team.
“Credit Houston,” he said. “They did what they can do. We didn’t play well, obviously. For us, the margin of error is not that great.”
From the bench, Houston’s Eric Gordon was able to match James Harden’s game-high 25-point mark. Chris Paul added another 15.
With the loss, the Jazz now trail Houston 2-1 and will look to rebound in Game 4 on Sunday. Donovan Mitchell said the blowout loss will have no bearing on Sunday’s game.
“We have to take this one on the chin and respond in game four,” he said.
Mitchell was particularly unhappy with his own performance after making just four field goals on 16 attempts and turning the ball over three times.
“I would have been better not showing up,” he said. “That’s what I did tonight. I didn’t show up for my teammates.”
But when Mitchell struggled, another Jazz rookie stepped up. Starting in the place of injured Ricky Rubio, Royce O’Neale scored a team-high 17 points. He was responsible for one of the Jazz’s best stretches, scoring seven-straight as part of a 9-0 Jazz run.
“I try to be that guy that brings a lot of energy,” he said. “I sparked a little run for us and tried to get us going.”
Alec Burks added 14 points off the bench while Rudy Gobert contributed another 12. Gobert said the good news is that he and his teammates knows why they lost.
“It’s better than losing and you don’t know why,” he said. “We’ve just got to watch film and we know we need to start the game much better than we did.”
More bad news came for the Jazz when starting forward Derrick Favors left the game in the third quarter with a sprained ankle. He didn’t return.
Even after such a sound win, Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni isn’t expecting another to come so easily Sunday.
“This is a very good basketball team and I’m sure Sunday we’ll see another version of them,” he said.