SALT LAKE CITY (AP)Lauri Markkanen had 24 points and nine rebounds to help the Utah Jazz beat the Houston Rockets 109-101 on Wednesday night.
Jordan Clarkson scored 20 points – hitting five 3-pointers – and had six assists for Utah. Talen Horton-Tucker and Malik Beasley added in 14 points apiece.
Markkanen matched his season high with 10 field goals after shooting a season-best 66.7% from the floor. He is finding ways to make a major impact on offense despite shooting only 24% from 3-point range through his first five games.
”I know the numbers will even out, so I keep working on it and it will start going eventually,” Markkanen said. ”But it feels good I’m able to do other stuff than just rely on that shot.”
Kevin Porter, Jr had 24 points and five assists for Houston. Jalen Green added 17 points and seven rebounds and Eric Gordon had 16 points.
Utah avenged its lone loss of the season by forcing turnovers and converting takeaways into numerous transition baskets. The Jazz finished with a 25-8 advantage in fast-break points and scored 20 points off 18 Houston turnovers.
Utah led 19 points in the third quarter – going up 79-60 on a Clarkson floater – before the Rockets rallied. Porter made baskets on three straight possessions to cut the deficit to single digits and his jumper with 5:39 left in the fourth quarter cut it to 97-95.
Houston could not draw any closer. Beasley’s corner three extended Utah’s lead to 106-98 with 54.3 seconds left.
”We’re a young team and winning in the fourth quarter is hard for young teams to do,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. ”We were mixing and matching with the lineups but if we could have made a couple more threes, we would win the game. We created them, we just didn’t make them.
The Rockets scored just two baskets over the final 5:38 of the fourth quarter.
”Houston scored five points in the last five minutes,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. ”We were able to get stops when we needed them.”
Jarred Vanderbilt fouled out for the second time in five games. Struggling with foul trouble is becoming a concerning trend for Vanderbilt. He has been whistled for at least four fouls in each game and is averaging 5.2 fouls per game.
”I haven’t had this many fouls this early on in my last couple of years, so it’s an adjustment for me for sure,” Vanderbilt said. ”(But) I also don’t want to take away my aggressiveness and how I do play.”
Utah closed with its fourth different lineup in five games after Vanderbilt and Kelly Olynyk both fouled out in the fourth quarter.
Rockets: Gordon has three steals in two games against the Jazz. . KJ Martin had 10 rebounds. . Houston outscored Utah 11-0 in second-chance points during the third quarter.
Jazz: Kelly Olynyk had a season-high six assists. . Utah outscored Houston 40-27 in bench points.
Rockets: At Portland on Friday night.
Jazz: At Denver on Friday night.
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