On the second night of a back-to-back, without Eric Gordon, Clint Capela, and Ryan Anderson, the Rockets needed someone to step up in order to win their 13th straight, and on Monday Night in Salt Lake City it was Luc Mbah a Moute in the Rockets 95-86 win over the Utah Jazz.
Mbah a Moute connected on all seven of his field goal attempts, giving the Rockets 17 points, 15 in the fourth quarter as the Rockets maintain their hold on the NBA’s best record at 47-13.
Houston started the game quickly, using an 8-0 run midway through the first period to take a 14-7 lead, but Utah closed the first quarter and began the second with a 27-7 spurt capped by a Ricky Rubio 3-pointer with 8:57 left in the half, netting the Jazz a 34-21 lead, and Donovan Mitchell’s dunk with 4:30 left made it a 15-point game, but the Rockets scored the final 10 points of the half, make it a manageable 44-39 game going to the locker room.
Rubio only scored three points in the first half, but he started the second with a triple to push Utah’s lead back to eight, but the Rockets chipped away, and finally regained the lead with 5:19 left in the quarter, when Trevor Ariza drained a 3-pointer, giving the Rockets a 59-57 lead. Rudy Gobert tied the game with a pair of free throws, and after Mbah a Moute’s dunk, his first bucket of the night, put the Rockets back on top, Mitchell answered with a layup to tie the game, though from that point on, it was all Rockets.
Following a steal, Harden was fouled by Gobert and sunk two free throws, starting a 9-2 Rockets run that ended the third quarter with them leading 70-63, and the fourth started with a 7-2 Rockets burst to make it a 12-point game, but Joe Ingles’ 3-pointer with seven minutes to play cut the lead to five, that’s when Mbah a Moute took over.
Chris Paul found him for a layup to up the lead back to seven, then after Jae Crowder missed from three, Paul found him again, this time for a 3-pointer, to make it a double-digit game again. The Jazz never got closer six the rest of the way as they fall to 31-30, 0-4 against the Rockets.
Harden led all scorers with 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting. He added 11 rebounds, while Paul scored 15.
Capela missed the game with an illness as did Gordon, the third straight game an illness has cost him. A sore groin kept Anderson out, while Brandan Wright didn’t play due to a sore right knee.
Gobert’s 17 points led the Jazz while Mitchell added 16, but Utah did not score more than 23 points in any period.
The Rockets will look for their 14th straight win Wednesday when they take on the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. The Rockets are 0-2 against the Clippers this season.