GOBERT EJECTED THREE MINUTES IN,
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.
Jazz forward Jae Crowder drives to the basket as Rockets guard Eric Gordon defends in the second half Thursday.