NBA regular season

Rudy Gobert returns, then gets ejected as Jazz rout Rockets

Rudy Gobert returns, then gets ejected as Jazz rout Rockets

SLAM. Jazz center Rudy Gobert dunks the ball in the fourth quarter against the Rockets.

Rob Gray/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The Jazz pile on the Rockets early even as All-Star Rudy Gobert gets tossed out after a nine-game absence

Donovan Mitchell fired 30 points and Rudy Gobert played well after a nine-game absence but then was ejected as the Utah Jazz pummeled the Houston Rockets, 135-101, in Salt Lake City Monday night, February 14 (Tuesday, February 15, Manila time).

Not quite a month after losing to the Rockets on the same court, the Jazz squeezed the suspense out of this matchup early thanks to hot shooting and the Gobert-led defense.

Utah took its first double-digit lead less than four minutes in and went up by as many as 31 points late in the first half en route to its sixth straight win.

The Jazz cruised to a 78-53 halftime lead, outscoring the Rockets by 23 points with Gobert on the floor. The All-Star center finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and a blocked shot in his first game since January 23 at Golden State.

Gobert played 22 minutes before his night ended when he was tossed midway through the fourth quarter after getting whistled for his second technical foul.

Houston’s Kenyon Martin Jr. scored 16 points, while Eric Gordon, who had missed three games with a left heel injury, and Jae’Sean Tate each added 14. The Rockets lost their fifth straight game and fell for the ninth time in the past 10.

Seven Jazz players hit double figures, including Bojan Bogdanovic with 22 points and Jordan Clarkson with 16. Hassan Whiteside finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

Gobert opened the game with a dunk after being sidelined for three weeks with a left calf strain. He closed a game-opening 9-1 run with another dunk, off an alley-oop pass from Mike Conley.

After Houston trimmed the gap to six points toward the end of the first quarter, the Jazz went on a 21-4 run, including 16 straight points to lead 47-24 with 10:21 left in the second quarter.

Gordon snapped the Rockets’ four-minute scoreless streak with a three-pointer, but they still trailed by 20 points. The Jazz snagged their biggest lead of the opening half when Bogdanovic scored on a layup with 1:30 remaining for a 76-45 edge.

Mitchell, who also finished with 7 assists and 6 rebounds, scored 15 by halftime for Utah, as did Bogdanovic. The Jazz had 20 of their 34 assists in the opening half. –

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