SALT LAKE CITY – – Georges Niang tied a career-high 24 points and NBA leaders Utah Jazz beat the outnumbered Houston Rockets 124-116 on Saturday night to reach 50 wins.
Jordan Clarkson scored 21 points and Bojan Bogdanovic added 20 – his seventh consecutive 20-point performance – for the Jazz.
Utah finished 5-0 on their homestand despite the absence again of All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley.
“We just really had to fight mentally. And keep pushing… that’s how we pulled off this victory, but I’m not going to lie to you: it’s been a grueling and tiring season, but that’s what it is and we came here to work ”, Clarkson said. .
Niang took advantage of a few post-ups in the painting and was a marksman beyond the arc. Starting just his eighth game, Niang scored 10 points in the third quarter and his 3 points with 2:50 left in the period gave Utah their biggest lead, 96-75.
“I know he’ll be in the right place at the right time,” Utah’s Joe Ingles said of Niang. “If I walk into the hallway and hit the corner, he’s going to be somewhere in that area and he’s definitely going to shoot it, so that’s a good look for us, when he plays like that with confidence.”
The usually mild-mannered Niang was so excited he pulled a technique to taunt after draining a 3 that tied his career high of 24 early in the last period. He was 6 out of 8 on 3 points.
“I usually hold back my emotions and just lost my temper. It is not who I am or aspire to be, ”said Niang. “I thought he had me brushed my face on purpose. So I told him it was too late, like he wasn’t going to get my shot anyway.
Rudy Gobert had 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Jazz.
The Rockets have lost five in a row and 20 of their last 23 games.
“They fought hard and they fought. Another fiercely contested match like last night. Once again, I was very proud of this group, ”said coach Stephen Silas.
Khyri Thomas and KJ Martin each hit a career high of 27 for Houston. Thomas scored 47 goals in two games with the Rockets, and Martin scored his third straight 20-point game and the fourth of his career.
“I just see it as an opportunity to go out and play basketball. I love doing it so I come every night and compete as hard as I can, ”said Martin.
Both teams were playing the second night in a row which led to some sloppy play. The Jazz improved to 12-2 on zero days off.
The understaffed Rockets used a starting lineup with Martin at 6-foot-7 as the tallest player to face the 7-foot-1 Gobert. Danuel House Jr. and DJ Augustin left the injury report and entered the pitch for the first time in weeks to give Houston eight available players.
Rockets: The casualty list was extensive: Avery Bradley (staff), Sterling Brown (knee), Danté Exum (calf), Eric Gordon (groin); David Nwaba (wrist), Kelly Olynyk (ankle), Kevin Porter Jr (ankle), John Wall (hamstrings); DJ Wilson (health protocol), and Christian Wood (ankle). … Houston used their 40th different starting lineup in 68 games. … Jae’Sean Tate received a flagrant 1 for hitting Gobert in the face in the third quarter.
Jazz: Clarkson has made a 3 in 90 straight games. … Utah dominated Houston in paint, 56-46. … The Jazz swept the season series with the Rockets, 3-0. … Ingles committed a technical foul with 2:10 left and then left the game.
Rockets: In Portland Monday night.
Jazz: At the Golden State on Monday evenings.