Rockets seeking more positive results vs. Jazz

HOUSTON -- Two positive results won't necessarily reverse a trend, but after struggling to replicate the efficient offense that confounded opposing defenses last season, the Houston Rockets got well during a brief and successful two-game road trip through New York and Atlanta.

The Rockets (7-3) preceded a 15-point victory over the Hawks on Friday after an 18-point dismantling of the Knicks on Wednesday. Houston sank 19 of 52 3-pointers in dispatching of the Knicks before sinking 16 3s while running the Hawks.

After enduring a schedule that featured seven road games over a 10-game stretch, the Rockets will host the Utah Jazz on Sunday at Toyota Center.

It is the first of three successive home game and nine in 12 games in Houston overall total.

Tallying 119 points in each victory is more in line with the Rockets' expectations. All-NBA guard James Harden averaged 30 points and 10 assists to spearhead the charge.

"Good two games for us but it's not going to be just two games or 10 games," Harden said. "It's going to be the entire season to get to where we want to go. We're building on both ends of the floor."

The trip to Houston represents a blip in a long stretch of home games for the Jazz. By Nov. 14, Utah will have played 10 of 14 games to open the season in Salt Lake City.

The Jazz (5-4) had taken full advantage of its home-heavy schedule before dropping a 109-100 decision to Toronto on Friday night. The Jazz were 5-0 at home before allowing the Raptors to shoot 53.5 percent

Utah has yet to win on the road in three attempts this campaign, making the matchup with Houston moderately important given that four consecutive home games await for the Jazz.

Utah is cobbling together lineup stability in the midst of this beneficial stretch, doing so despite having lost point guard Dante Exum (shoulder) for the season last month and swingman Joe Johnson (wrist) for at least two weeks. Rookie combo guard Donovan Mitchell has filled the former void and of late has earned additional minutes with members of the Jazz starting lineup.

Instead of playing only alongside reserves, Mitchell has encroached upon the workload of veteran point guard Ricky Rubio. Of late, Mitchell has worked 34 and 31 minutes in succession, marking the first times the scoring-minded guard eclipsed the 30-minute plateau and he scored 53 points in those games.

"Ricky is such a competitor I think he expends a lot of energy," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "So that substitution pattern fits him. It took us a little while to figure that out. And then I think after losing Dante, playing multiple guys at the point position, allowing Donovan to play out there a little bit with Joe Ingles, and then giving us a chance to bring Ricky in, having stabilization at the end of quarters to me is important.

"Having scoring on the court all the time, you don't have to platoon a bench. That's a little more collegiate. Usually it's a player or two or a lineup, and that lineup doesn't always have to be five bench guys, especially on our team. Those lines are blurred."
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