The Utah Jazz (9-8) travel to Houston tonight to face the Rockets (7-8) for the second time this season. The Rockets lost to the Jazz 102-92 on Nov. 19 in Utah. Harden didn’t have much of an impact the last time out, so look for him to bounce back as he tries to get Houston their fifth straight home win.
AccuScore simulations (10,000) project a Rockets victory 74.1 percent of the time, with an average score of 103.3 – 95.4. The Rockets are 6 point favorites and cover that spread in 55.2 percent of the simulations.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Rockets a projected to get a big win (10 points or more) 43.6 percent of the time. There is no way the Rockets are THAT good, but factoring in that every single one of Utah’s losses this season have come on the road and they’re playing a back to back after a loss at Oklahoma City, I can understand why the simulations would have those results.
The total for the game is set at 204 and the data has it going OVER in 57.9 percent of the simulations.
The Jazz are looking to finish their three-game trip on a positive note after beating the New Orleans Hornets 96-84 on Wednesday and losing to the OKC Thunder 106-94 yesterday. Utah is expected to be without forward Marvin Williams. The matchup down low between Al Jefferson and Omer Asik might be the most important factor in tonight’s game. Asik is a big body down there and Jefferson’s [potentially] tired legs will be an issue if Utah needs a bucket down the stretch. Jefferson had 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks last night, but played 39 minutes, his most all season (not counting the triple-OT game). In their first game against Houston, Jefferson had 14 points and 16 rebounds, on 4-of-12 shooting. Tonight, he’s projected to get 19 points (8-18), 11 rebounds, at least 1 block, and 1 steal.
Paul Millsap is projected to get 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block. Gordon Hayward is projected to get 13 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds. Derrick Favors is projected to get 11 points, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block.
Mo Williams, who made his return last night, is projected to get 13 points (2 3-pointers), 5 assists, and 1 steal. He had 13 points, 6 assists, 1 steal and 1 3-pointer in 32 minutes last night.
The Houston offense goes through James Harden on practically every play and the simulations show exactly that. During their latest winning-streak at home, Harden has been shooting 50 percent from the field and averaging 28+ points. He has some fresh legs tonight and is projected to get 27 points (8-17, 9-11 FTs), 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Chandler Parsons (listed as probable) is projected to get 14 points (2 3-pointers), and 6 rebounds. Jeremy Lin is projected to get 12 points (4-10), 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals.
As a team, the Jazz are projected to get 16 turnovers as opposed to 13 for the Rockets. Keep an eye on the turnover differential because it is extremely difficult for a road team to win giving up possessions like that. The Rockets are also projected to get nearly 4 more steals than the Jazz.
If I were to bet on just the money line, I would go with Houston. Utah is due for a road win, but a second night of a back-to-back isn’t the most ideal of situations. I do think the Jazz are the better team and think they’ll keep it close. While AccuScore data suggests taking Houston on the spread, I’d take the Jazz and the points.
My prediction- The Jazz get their first road win of the season, 97-93.
All data provided by AccuScore.com