NBA regular season

Young Rockets spoil Jordan Clarkson’s big game in OT


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Young Rockets spoil Jordan Clarkson’s big game in OT

BIG GAME. Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson shoots over Rockets' Jae'Sean Tate.


Alperen Sengun and Jabari Smith Jr. come through the clutch for the young Rockets in overtime as Jordan Clarkson misses a chance to cap a big double-double with a game-winner

Alperen Sengun matched a career-high with 37 points and added 14 rebounds and Jabari Smith Jr. also recorded a double-double as the Houston Rockets held on for a 127-126 overtime victory over the visiting Utah Jazz on Saturday, January 20 (Sunday, January 21, Manila time).

Sengun completed a three-point play with 52.2 seconds left that pulled the Rockets even at 126-126 before Smith (24 points, 10 rebounds) made the second of two free throws with 36.4 seconds remaining despite suffering an ankle injury.

But when Sengun missed two free throws with 8.8 seconds left, the Jazz had one final shot. However, Jordan Clarkson, who had team highs of 33 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, missed a runner just before the final buzzer.

Collin Sexton added 28 points and Lauri Markkanen posted 22 points and 9 rebounds for the Jazz. Walker Kessler dominated the extra period and finished with 7 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks for the game before fouling out.

The Rockets were buoyed by the shot-making of Smith and Fred VanVleet (18 points overall) in the fourth quarter, with rookie Cam Whitmore adding 17 points off the bench for the game.

The fourth quarter and overtime featured five lead changes and five ties.

Following a first half in which Utah shot 40.4%, the Jazz posted a 38-point third quarter built on a balanced attack featuring 11 points from Markkanen and 7 apiece from Simone Fontecchio, Kris Dunn and Sexton, whose basket at the 3:26 mark pulled the Jazz even at 79-79.

When Clarkson fed Kelly Olynyk for a dunk with 1:06 left in the third, the Jazz led 87-86.

Having trailed by as many as 17 points in the second quarter, Utah entered the fourth tied 89-89 with Clarkson, Markkanen and Sexton each scoring 18 points.

Paced by Sengun and his activity throughout the opening period, Houston took a 31-24 lead into the second. Sengun had 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists in the first, and the Rockets surged late on the strength of 8 offensive rebounds yielding 10 second-chance points.

After there were 10 lead changes in the first period, the Rockets seized control with a 12-2 run early in the second. Smith and Jeff Green drilled three-pointers before Aaron Holiday converted a floater, two free throws and a layup that gave the Rockets a 49-32 lead.

Clarkson almost singlehandedly kept the Jazz within range, scoring 16 points before the intermission as Utah cut the deficit to 64-51 at the break. –

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