October 25, 2018 / 2:43 AM / a month ago

Jazz down Rockets after Harden exits

EditorsNote: Second Update: Restores 19 turnovers in lede

Donovan Mitchell paired 38 points with seven assists, and the Utah Jazz overcame 19 turnovers Wednesday in a 100-89 victory over the host Houston Rockets, who saw star James Harden exit due to hamstring tightness.

Mitchell proved instrumental in helping the Jazz fend off the Rockets throughout. His 3-pointer with 4:36 left in the fourth quarter extended the Utah lead back to double digits, and Mitchell followed with a nifty pass over the defense that Rudy Gobert (12 points, 13 rebounds) converted into an alley-oop and a 91-79 advantage.

The Rockets, playing without Harden down the stretch, failed to muster another response and fell to 0-2 at home on the season.

Harden left for good at the 5:19 mark of the fourth quarter. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said postgame that Harden would be re-evaluated Thursday to assess his status. Harden had team highs of 29 points and seven assists but also logged seven turnovers.

Houston dropped both games with guard Chris Paul serving a two-game suspension following his role in an altercation with Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo on Saturday at Staples Center.

Carmelo Anthony, who started the second half for the Rockets after posting 10 points prior to the break, finished with 22 points. Houston shot 11 of 40 from 3-point range, with Eric Gordon going 1 of 12 from behind the arc.

Utah was marginally better from deep (10 of 29), but Joe Ingles did hit 3 of 6 3-point attempts en route to 11 points.

An 11-0 Utah run in the first quarter set a tone for how to expose the Rockets defensively. Aside from an open Mitchell trey from the top of the key, the Jazz either scored at the rim or from the line. Houston managed to claw its way back in front courtesy of a four-point play from Gerald Green, but Utah opened the second quarter resuming its thrust via dribble penetration.

First, it was reserve guards Dante Exum and Alec Burks, then Mitchell returning from his break, who continued exposing the Rockets’ inability to defend off the dribble. Mitchell scored and facilitated with equal aplomb, closing the first half with 20 points and three assists.

Utah, which struggled blending ball movement with quality open looks in back-to-back home losses last week, recorded 12 assists on 17 field goals by the break and led 52-44 at the intermission.

—Field Level Media

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