Jazz looking to regroup at home against Rockets

The team that rode six- and eight-game winning streaks at the end of 2021 can’t seem to get a break now – due to health issues, opponents and themselves.

On Tuesday, the Utah Jazz announced that All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell entered league concussion protocol. Mitchell suffered a hit late in the first half of the Jazz’s 101-95 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. After finishing the game, Mitchell experienced symptoms later in the day.

Utah expects to play without Mitchell, who earned NBA Western Conference Player of the Month honors in December, as he prepares for Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets in Salt Lake City.

It’s a blow to the league-leading Jazz offense, which scored under 100 points for only the fourth time this season in Los Angeles on Monday night. Utah’s defense has been the team’s weakness for most of its current slump, which includes losses in five of its last six outings.

Mitchell admitted the Jazz’s offense “stalled” against the Lakers. He scored just 13 points and missed all eight 3-point attempts, while Bojan Bogdanovic (0 of 4), Jordan Clarkson (0 of 6) and Rudy Gay (1 of 8) also missed from the outside all night, resulting in defeat.

“I don’t know the last time me, Bojan and JC missed all of our 3s,” Mitchell said. “If we do a few, it’s a game-changer.”

The Lakers had lost their previous three games, giving up an average of 128.3 points in losses to the Grizzlies, Kings and Nuggets.

“We made it harder for ourselves than necessary,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.

The Rockets come into Wednesday’s game 16 fewer wins than the Jazz, but they’ve been playing better lately. Houston won two of three games after stumbling on a tough 1-11 streak.

Eric Gordon provided late heroics for Houston in their last Sunday win at Sacramento, scoring with 12.5 seconds left to clinch the 118-112 victory.

Christian Wood started the Rockets with 23 points and 14 rebounds, while Kevin Porter Jr. contributed 23 points and seven assists.

“We were ready to play (Sunday),” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said after the win. “We’re not a playoff team yet, but when we are, this is what it will look like. We’re trying to learn as many lessons as we can. I was proud of them for that.”

The Rockets know the struggles on one side of the court, however. Houston has by far the lowest ranked defense in the NBA, giving up an average of 116.7 points per game. Their opponents have not scored less than 111 points in 15 consecutive games.

Silas recently called his team’s defensive effort “a slow step, a step behind everything.”

Despite Monday’s disappointing performance, the Jazz still lead the NBA with an average of 114.9 points.

–Field-Level Media

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