For a half Saturday night, the Utah Jazz had been the new guy in the yard that smacks the biggest guy he can find in the chops. Stranger still, for a half, the Rockets took it. A team that proudly considered itself too big to fail, was pushed around long enough for the Jazz to lead by 19 and the Rockets to be outplayed in just about every way, but none as much as on the boards. When the Rockets muscled up in the second half, keeping the Jazz off the boards, the Rockets rallied all the way back and then surged through the fourth quarter to stun the Jazz 104-93, matching the 10th-largest comeback in franchise history with the largest for the Rockets against the Jazz. After Enes Kanter had dominated the first half, Omer Asik shut him down, limiting him to one field goal and one rebound in the second half. With the Rockets’ defense forcing missed shots and no longer allowing the Jazz to keep on shooting until they made one, the Rockets had more than enough scoring to take it from there. “We just started the game, especially me, sleeping a little bit,” Asik said. “That’s why he got all the rebounds. We just took him off the boards. Didn’t let him go in in the second half. “We should never start sleepy. We know that. I’m sure, that will never happen again. In the second half, we just played the way we have to play.” There were other issues, but nothing else corrected would have been enough unless the Rockets started doing what they do best. Good follows good When they did, everything else fell into place. “We should be able to (outrebound teams),” Dwight Howard said. “It’s going to take a lot of effort from myself and Omer and other bigs when they come in. But we have to be able to control the boards for our team to get out and run. “The second half, I think we did a better job on the defensive end, stopping them from getting more than one shot. The first half, they were getting multiple chances at the rim. We did a great job in the second half, just having them shoot one shot.” Howard and Asik had been first and second in the NBA in rebounds per minute after the first two games, but in the first half, Howard had five, Asik just one. In the second half, they combined for 13. That was well below their pace of the first two games, but they kept the Jazz from doing anything on the boards as they had in the first half. Rebound superiority The Jazz outrebounded the Rockets by 15 boards in the first half; the Rockets outrebounded the Jazz by 16 in the second half. After scoring 16 second-chance points in the first half, the Jazz scored five in the second half. When they no longer could rely on taking shot after shot, the Jazz made 32.4 percent of their second-half shots, scoring just 37 points. “We were a step slow in the first half,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “We struggled. In the second half, we got a little organized, talked a little about their effort and how we had to play.
Rockets overcome sluggish start to knock off Jazz in Utah
Houston Chronicle | Nov 3