With the amount of offensive weapons Houston have, teams have to choose who they are going to try and stop.
That often leaves other players with great opportunities to score, as was the case on Monday when Utah keyed in on slowing down James Harden and Chris Paul to pave the way for Eric Gordon’s big night.
Gordon scored 17 of his season-high 33 points in the fourth quarter to power a huge run that put the Rockets on top as they cruised to their 14th straight win, 120-99.
“All it takes is one of us to get hot and [Monday] it was E.G., and that was crazy,” Paul said.
Houston used a 15-0 run early in the fourth to take the lead and were up by four midway through the quarter after a layup by Joe Ingles.
The Rockets then scored 11 points in a row, capped by two three-pointers from Gordon to make it 111-96 with about three minutes to go.
Gordon said that was the hottest quarter he has ever had and when he got rolling he hoped his teammates would continue to find him.
“You’re looking for it every time down the court,” Gordon said. “I think guys were looking for me and it was just a fun game in that fourth quarter.”
Harden added 26 points, Clint Capela had 24 points and 20 rebounds, while Gordon finished with a season-high seven three-pointers.
The Rockets struggled from long range for most of the night, making just nine of 31 three-pointers in the first three quarters.
The Rockets found their groove in the final period, when they made eight of 12 with five from Gordon to pull away for their 20th victory in 21 games.
Coach Mike D’Antoni was certainly happy Houston got the victory, but could have done without the Rockets waiting until the fourth quarter to pull away.
“We’re getting away from getting out there, and getting after them right at the beginning and blowing them out,” D’Antoni said. “Now we’re waiting until the end. We’re going against that and we’ll try to do a better job.”
Rodney Hood had 26 points off the bench for the Jazz, who have lost six of their past seven games.
Without Dante Exum all season as he recovers from surgery on his left shoulder, the Jazz were also missing Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert and Raul Neto to various injuries.
“We didn’t have enough at the end,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “We couldn’t get stops in the fourth quarter and that can happen. We can say we ran out of gas, but they just continued to put pressure on us.”
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