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UTA

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Harden scores 26 as Rockets Beat Jazz for 13th Straight

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Time and again in the fourth quarter, Luc Mbah a Moute saw 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert guarding him on the perimeter.

His eyes lit up.

After all, he had a feeling this might happen and the Rockets forward took advantage.

''I just slowed down and took what the defense gave me,'' Mbah a Moute said. ''It's always fun to make them pay for a mismatch and make shots.''

Mbah a Moute scored 15 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and James Harden had 26 points to lift the Houston Rockets to their 13th straight win, 96-85 over the Utah Jazz on Monday night.

Playing the second side of a back-to-back set at high altitude, nothing seemed to come easy for the Rockets but the Jazz committed 22 turnovers, many of them unforced, to ease the pressure.

Mbah a Moute saw Denver center Nikola Jokic guard him for a while on Sunday night admitted it threw him off. Against the Jazz, he was ready.

''I watched the tapes this morning and saw how I could exploit it if ever that kind of matchup happened again. ... The opportunity presented itself so I was already prepared for it and I took advantage,'' Mbah a Moute said.

The Jazz seemed determined to limit Harden and run the Rocket's top shooters off the 3-point line but Mbah a Moute exploited the open shots and lanes to the basket to keep the Jazz at bay.

Mbah a Moute went 7-for-7 and Chris Paul added 15 points for the streaking Rockets, who trailed by as many as 15 in the first half.

''That was a big grind-out game for us. We got here and didn't know what guys were going to be out, so it was just next-man-up,'' Paul said. ''We expect Luc to take and make those shots. We trust each other.''

Coming in, it was a matchup of two of the hottest teams in the NBA. The Jazz had won 12 of 13 games but couldn't find easy baskets against the Rockets scrambling defense.

Gobert scored 17 and Donovan Mitchell had 16 to lead the Jazz, who were 7-of-29 from 3-point range - including the Jazz rookie who was 1-of-9.

''We just weren't together,'' Mitchell said. ''Unforced errors -- I had eight turnovers out of 22. That's damn near half. Just mental mistakes.''

Rockets missed 15 of their first 17 3-pointers themselves but the cold spell didn't last as Trevor Ariza hit back-to-back long balls to give the Rockets their first lead of the second half at 59-57. Stifling defense helped stretch that to a 77-65 advantage early in the final period with Harden on the bench for much of a 14-2 run.

When Mitchell drove for a dunk with 4:30 left in the second quarter, the Jazz took their largest lead at 44-29.

The Rockets won all four meetings with the Jazz this season by double digits.

The contest began a stretch where Rockets play six of seven on the road but Houston remains on a pace for the best record in franchise history even with a depleted roster. Ryan Anderson was out with a groin injury and Eric Gordon and Clint Capela missed the game with illness. Brandan Wright sat with a sore knee.

''This is probably our best win of the year because we were short-handed and we grind it out. I didn't know how we were going to win, and they figured out a way,'' Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Joe Johnson, who was traded by Utah at midseason and then signed with Houston, received applause when he entered the game in the first quarter. ... Harden and Jae Crowder banged knees in the final minute of the second quarter. Harden rocked on his back and grimaced but then played the rest of the half. ... The Rockets scored a season-low 39 points in the first half.

Jazz: Backup PG Raul Neto missed his third straight game with a right ankle sprain. ... As the first half came to an end, Joe Ingles and Harden hand fought, bumped and talked trash. Ingles, the NBA leader in 3-point percentage, missed four of his five of his attempts beyond the arc and scored 6 points. ... The Jazz held the Rockets to fewer than 10 3-pointers for the first time since Oct. 23.

LET'S JUST HOOP

Paul said they play a certain style no matter who's out there on the court. Before the Rockets went out for the opening tip, Paul wasn't worried about who was injured and if they might have odd rotations. ''Alright, we got who we got. Let's just go hoop,'' he said to his teammates.

ALPHA DOGS ARE BARKING

D'Antoni isn't concerned about motivating the Rockets. ''Hey, you know your alpha dogs are hungry. They play. They love to play basketball. James (Harden) loves to play, so he's ready to go every night he can. ... and the chemistry's really good.''

UP NEXT

Rockets: Visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.

Jazz: Host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
J. Harden
13 SG
D. Mitchell
45 SG
32.3 Min. Per Game 32.3
19.7 Pts. Per Game 19.7
3.5 Ast. Per Game 3.5
3.5 Reb. Per Game 3.5
44.9 Field Goal % 43.7
44.6 Three Point % 43.4
86.4 Free Throw % 83.5
  Defensive rebound by Luc Mbah a Moute 0:02
  Jae Crowder missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:05
  Out of bounds turnover on Chris Paul 0:10
  Bad pass turnover on Donovan Mitchell, stolen by Chris Paul 0:19
+ 1 James Harden made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:26
+ 1 James Harden made 1st of 2 free throws 0:26
  Personal foul on Rudy Gobert 0:26
  Defensive rebound by James Harden 0:33
  Ricky Rubio missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:34
  Bad pass turnover on Chris Paul, stolen by Donovan Mitchell 0:38
+ 2 Rudy Gobert made dunk, assist by Jae Crowder 0:48
Team Stats
Points 96 85
Field Goals 34-79 (43.0%) 31-71 (43.7%)
3-Pointers 9-33 (27.3%) 7-29 (24.1%)
Free Throws 19-25 (76.0%) 16-22 (72.7%)
Total Rebounds 48 49
Offensive 9 7
Defensive 31 32
Team 8 10
Assists 15 21
Steals 15 6
Blocks 2 4
Turnovers 15 22
Fouls 21 19
Technicals 0 0
26 PTS, 11 REB, 5 AST
12 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST
1234T
away team logo Rockets 47-13 1920312696
home team logo Jazz 31-30 2123192285
Team Stats
away team logo Rockets 47-13 104.9 PPG 43 RPG 18.8 APG
home team logo Jazz 31-30 102.4 PPG 45 RPG 20.3 APG
Key Players
J. Harden SG 30.4 PPG 5.4 RPG 8.8 APG 44.9 FG%
R. Gobert C 13.5 PPG 10.7 RPG 1.4 APG 62.2 FG%
Top Scorers
J. Harden SG 26 PTS 11 REB 5 AST
R. Gobert C 17 PTS 6 REB 1 AST
43.0 FG% 43.7
27.3 3PT FG% 24.1
76.0 FT% 72.7
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Harden 34 26 11 5 3 0 6 1 8/13 1/5 9/12 1 10 44 +15
C. Paul 33 15 6 7 3 0 2 2 5/13 1/4 4/4 1 5 36 +15
T. Ariza 32 9 3 0 0 0 0 3 3/13 3/9 0/0 1 2 12 0
T. Black 18 8 4 0 2 1 1 3 4/8 0/0 0/1 4 0 14 -7
P. Tucker 25 2 3 0 2 0 1 3 0/7 0/4 2/2 0 3 6 +4
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Harden 34 26 11 5 3 0 6 1 8/13 1/5 9/12 1 10 44 +15
C. Paul 33 15 6 7 3 0 2 2 5/13 1/4 4/4 1 5 36 +15
T. Ariza 32 9 3 0 0 0 0 3 3/13 3/9 0/0 1 2 12 0
T. Black 18 8 4 0 2 1 1 3 4/8 0/0 0/1 4 0 14 -7
P. Tucker 25 2 3 0 2 0 1 3 0/7 0/4 2/2 0 3 6 +4
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
L. Mbah a Moute 28 17 3 0 1 1 0 1 7/7 2/2 1/1 0 3 22 +16
Nene 19 9 5 1 3 0 3 4 3/6 0/0 3/5 2 3 16 +10
J. Johnson 29 7 4 2 0 0 1 2 3/6 1/3 0/0 0 4 14 +5
G. Green 16 3 1 0 1 0 1 2 1/6 1/6 0/0 0 1 4 -3
B. Wright - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E. Gordon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Anderson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Hunter - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Brown - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Capela - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Onuaku - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Z. Qi - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 234 96 40 15 15 2 15 21 34/79 9/33 19/25 9 31 168 +55
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
R. Gobert 36 17 6 1 1 2 1 4 7/8 0/0 3/5 2 4 27 -9
D. Mitchell 36 16 2 4 3 0 8 3 6/15 1/9 3/4 1 1 21 -7
R. Rubio 26 14 3 5 1 1 3 3 4/10 2/4 4/4 0 3 26 -4
D. Favors 28 8 7 0 0 0 1 1 4/6 0/0 0/0 2 5 14 -10
J. Ingles 32 6 3 3 0 0 3 3 1/6 1/5 3/4 0 3 12 -18
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
R. Gobert 36 17 6 1 1 2 1 4 7/8 0/0 3/5 2 4 27 -9
D. Mitchell 36 16 2 4 3 0 8 3 6/15 1/9 3/4 1 1 21 -7
R. Rubio 26 14 3 5 1 1 3 3 4/10 2/4 4/4 0 3 26 -4
D. Favors 28 8 7 0 0 0 1 1 4/6 0/0 0/0 2 5 14 -10
J. Ingles 32 6 3 3 0 0 3 3 1/6 1/5 3/4 0 3 12 -18
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Crowder 29 12 6 5 0 1 1 1 4/15 2/8 2/4 2 4 28 -8
A. Burks 11 7 2 1 0 0 2 0 3/5 1/1 0/0 0 2 9 -3
J. Jerebko 17 3 8 0 0 0 0 2 1/3 0/1 1/1 0 8 11 +13
R. O'Neale 21 2 2 2 1 0 3 2 1/3 0/1 0/0 0 2 6 -9
T. Sefolosha - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E. Udoh - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G. Niang - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E. McCree - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Neto - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Exum - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Bradley - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 236 85 39 21 6 4 22 19 31/71 7/29 16/22 7 32 154 -55