Houston Rockets

Houston Looks to Knockout the Jazz For the Second Straight Year

It took the Rockets a few months to get on track for the season, but the second-half surge up the Western Conference standings netted the respect of a team that pushed Golden State to the brink of elimination before the Warriors rallied and later secured their second championship in succession and third in the span of four years.

The Rockets' exceptional play confirmed their status as championship contenders , but even the most dutiful observers might be unaware of who finished second behind Houston in net rating during the unofficial second half of the season: the Utah Jazz.

And while the Rockets' roster has been largely revamped excluding their core, Utah returns with essentially the same rotation that authored one of the bigger surprises last season.

Some of that improvement, at least relative to the matchup with the Rockets, was displayed early in the season when the Jazz claimed the first two meetings with Houston by a total of 38 points.

The Rockets would justifiably point out that their current rotation is far healthier and settled compared to those rocky opening weeks when Houston stumbled to an 11-14 start.

Houston struggled to maintain its aggressive switching defensive style during the first half of the season, with its roster overhaul requiring a span of games for those personnel changes to take hold.

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