The Maui News - - SPORTS - By JOHN COON The As­so­ci­ated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — No Rudy Gobert proved to be no prob­lem for the Jazz on de­fense.

Utah smoth­ered the Hous­ton Rock­ets for the bet­ter part of four quar­ters en route to a 11891 vic­tory Thurs­day night. The Jazz pestered and pressed Hous­ton into cough­ing up the ball re­peat­edly, es­pe­cially af­ter half­time. The Rock­ets gave up 22 turnovers and al­lowed Utah to score 33 points off them. Both were sea­son highs for a Hous­ton op­po­nent.

The Jazz played the bulk of the game with­out their start­ing cen­ter af­ter Gobert was ejected less than three min­utes into the game. He picked up his first foul on the open­ing tip. Af­ter pick­ing up his sec­ond at the 9:13 mark of the first quar­ter, Gobert was tossed af­ter swat­ting a pa­per cup off the scorer’s ta­ble in frus­tra­tion.

Gobert drew a $15,000 fine from league of­fi­cials ear­lier in the week for crit­i­ciz­ing the of­fi­ci­at­ing crew fol­low­ing Utah’s 102-100 loss to Mi­ami on Sun­day.

His re­sponse to the of­fi­cials ended up be­ing more sub­dued this time around.

“I just came in to try to play bas­ket­ball,” Gobert said. “Fouls were called and I had a stupid re­ac­tion. I think I can blame my­self more than any­thing for that one.”

Der­rick Fa­vors stepped up in Gobert’s ab­sence. Fa­vors to­taled a sea­son-high 24 points on 10-of-13 shoot­ing and 10 re­bounds in 26 min­utes off the bench.

“When Rudy went out, I had an op­por­tu­nity to just go out and be ag­gres­sive and take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity that was given to me,” Fa­vors said. “That’s what I did and it paid off for me.”

Joe In­gles added 18 points and six re­bounds for the Jazz. Utah won for the fourth time in five games to climb back to .500.

Ev­ery­thing un­rav­eled for Hous­ton start­ing in the third quar­ter.

The Jazz opened up the sec­ond half with a 15-2 spurt. Joe In­gles and Jae Crow­der each scored a pair of bas­kets on Utah’s first four pos­ses­sions to ig­nite the de­ci­sive run that gave the Jazz a 68-47 lead. Hous­ton com­mit­ted four turnovers in that stretch, lead­ing to eight points for Utah.

“They were driv­ing and kick­ing and be­ing more ac­tive,” Rock­ets coach Mike D’An­toni said. “They were more ath­letic, get­ting to the rim. They just beat us in ev­ery which way they could.”

James Harden scored 15 points while Chris Paul and Clint Capela added 12 apiece for the Rock­ets.

AP photo

Jazz for­ward Jae Crow­der drives to the bas­ket as Rock­ets guard Eric Gor­don de­fends in the sec­ond half Thurs­day.

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