NBA regular season

Jazz top Rockets, continue quest for West’s top seed

Jazz top Rockets, continue quest for West’s top seed

STANDOUT. Jordan Clarkson delivers another Jazz highlight with a slam.

Photo from Utah Jazz

Jordan Clarkson and Georges Niang lead a balanced Jazz charge as Utah becomes the first team to reach the 50-win mark

Georges Niang tied his career-high with 24 points, Jordan Clarkson unloaded 21, and Bojan Bogdanovic added 20 as the Utah Jazz cruised past the Houston Rockets, 124-116, Saturday night, May 8 (Sunday, May 9, Manila time) in Salt Lake City.

It was the fifth win in a row for Utah, which continues to play without injured All-Star guards Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley.

Utah (50-18) became the first team in the NBA to reach the 50-win mark while also stretching its lead for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs over idle Phoenix (48-19) to 1 1/2 games.

Kenyon Martin Jr and Khyri Thomas each scored 27 points for the Rockets (16-52), who lost their fifth straight.

Rudy Gobert added 13 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots; Joe Ingles scored 14 points with 7 assists and 6 rebounds; and Royce O’Neale also contributed 13 points.

Both teams were playing for the second night in a row. Utah defeated Denver at home on Friday to clinch the Northwest Division, while the Rockets played well but came up short in Milwaukee.

Houston didn’t make it easy on Utah, keeping it tied at 32-32 after the first quarter and staying within six at halftime, 66-60.

Niang went on a personal 8-0 run to give the Jazz their largest lead to that point in the third quarter at 96-75. Utah led by 22 with 3:37 remaining in the game after a Clarkson bucket.

Houston then scored the final 11 points down the stretch to make the final margin more respectable.

Utah plays three of its final four regular-season games on the road, beginning with a Monday game at Golden State. –