Houston • You wouldn’t have wanted to let the Utah Jazz loose around the Houston Rockets six weeks ago.
“I don’t know what I would have done if I was on the court,” Earl Watson said after the Rockets beat the Jazz by 45 points and shot 13 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. “I don’t think I would have been in the game too long. I probably would have gotten kicked out.”
Oh, boy. That should make for some interesting drama Wednesday night in Houston when the Jazz get their first crack at the Rockets since that 125-80 defeat Jan. 28.
Except, a playoff race seems to have tamed the Jazz’s emotions.
“What’s on my mind now is winning games, helping this team win, making the playoffs,” Watson said. “Personal battles are never on my mind. The past, they beat us. We’re going to come out here and get a win.”
The Jazz are the odd ones out of a four-team race for three playoff spots, sitting one game back of the Lakers and two behind the Rockets.
“Tonight’s another one of those games that could have more than a one-game implication for us,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “They are right in the race with us, and they’re ahead of us now.”
The Rockets were 16 of 34 on 3-pointers in January’s win over the Jazz. In the fourth quarter, little-known reserves combined to make eight 3s. Of the field goals they take, 35.1 percent are 3-pointers — second in the NBA behind only the New York Knicks.
“We can’t expect them not to take the right shots,” Corbin said. “They were shooting them and making them. However, you want to use that for yourselves. We’ve got to make sure we just try to win the ballgame.”
Paul Millsap said following that loss that the Jazz would use the 3-point barrage as motivation for the next time they played. Well, that game is here.
“We’ve forgotten about what happened last time,” he said. “Our main focus is to go out here and do our jobs tonight. Try to stop them as much as possible.”
Millsap said the Rockets just were trying to send a message with their shot selection.
“I think they looked at it as we’ve got to play these guys again, got to get them out right now, take the confidence,” Millsap said. “If it was us, we’d probably do the same thing.”