The Houston Rockets (46-13) just can’t stop winning at the moment. They’ve bumped their current winning streak up to a dozen games following last night’s 119-114 win over the Denver Nuggets. James Harden had himself quite a night as he erupted for his second 40-point game of the month to go with eight rebounds and seven assists. Chris Paul added 23 points and six assists, while Trevor Ariza was the only other Rocket in double-digits with 14.
The Rockets will be gunning for their 13th win in a row against the Utah Jazz (31-29), whose own win streak ended at 11 games on Friday following a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. However, they bounced right back as they picked up a 97-90 win over the Dallas Mavericks. Donovan Mitchell delivered 25 points, six rebounds, and five assists to pace the Jazz. Rudy Gobert had a 13-point, ten-rebound double-double, while Joe Ingles had a nice all-around night with 12 points, four boards, and eight assists.
Three keys to the game
Homecourt advantage - The Rockets will be in a tough spot as they look to keep their winning streak going. Not only will they be on the road on the second night of a back-to-back, but they will have to go up against a formidable Jazz team which has won six of its last seven home games.
James Harden - The Rockets are a perfect 3-0 with an average margin of victory of almost 20 points against the Jazz this season. Unsurprisingly, Harden has been a huge reason for their success. The Rockets superstar is averaging 37 points and seven assists against Utah, which includes a 56-point explosion back in November.
Jazz supporting cast - Of course, the Jazz have been a much different team compared to the one which lost those three meetings against Houston earlier in the season. Their offense, in particular, has grown by leaps and bounds. But while Mitchell has been a consistent source of points - he’s scored 20 or more in each of his last six games - the Jazz will need a complete team effort from the rest of his supporting cast to outgun the Rockets’ prolific offense.
Matchup to watch
Clint Capela vs Rudy Gobert - Capela had a rare unproductive game last night against the Nuggets as he had just six points and seven rebounds.That’s the first time he’s failed to hit double-digits in either points or rebounds in 2018. The Rockets could sure use a good bounce-back effort from him and hold his own in a tough matchup against Jazz big man Gobert.
Rockets projected starting lineup
PG - Chris Paul | SG - James Harden | SF - Trevor Ariza | PF - Luc Mbah a Moute | C - Clint Capela
Jazz projected starting lineup
PG - Ricky Rubio | SG - Donovan Mitchell | SF - Joe Ingles | PF - Derrick Favors | C - Rudy Gobert
Harden isn’t the only Rocket who’s had great fantasy success against the Jazz this season. His backcourt mate, Chris Paul, has been just as impressive, putting up a stellar line of 18.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 11.5 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.5 blocks in two meetings against Utah. Sixth man Eric Gordon has also burned the Jazz backcourt to the tune of 21 points while hitting five 3-pointers per game at a 48 percent clip. Although, Gordon is still questionable to play as he continues to battle an illness.
As for the Jazz, Joe Ingles has been far and away the most reliable fantasy performer apart from Mitchell over the last few weeks. The Aussie has come back down to earth in terms of his scoring, but his all-around production has remained impressive. Over his last three games, he’s averaging 12.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks.
There's definitely a case to be made for the Jazz in this game. They've improved since those earlier meetings and they'll be at home while the Rockets will be on the second night of a back-to-back. But even with those factors, the Rockets have the two best players on the floor in Harden and Paul, and both of them have owned the Jazz this season. That's why it's the wise move to take the Rockets as two-point road favorites.
The Rockets are tested more closely by the Jazz this time around, but they still manage to extend their win streak to 13 games with a 108-102 win.
This game will be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet - Rocky Mountain and AT&T SportsNet Southwest. Tip-off is at 9:00 pm Eastern.