SALT LAKE CITY — For the past several years no NBA team has made more of a living at the 3-point line than the Houston Rockets. They’ve led the league in attempts for five of the past six seasons and under coach Mike D’Antoni, the Rockets have really stepped up the pace, attempting an unheard-of 44 per game this season, 10 more than the next most 3-point shooting team in the league.
In Thursday night’s 112-101 victory at Vivint Arena, Houston showed off its 3-point shooting prowess to open up a close game in the third quarter and hand the Jazz their second straight loss as the Rockets won their eighth straight.
The Rockets sank 18 of 42 3-pointers, including six in the pivotal first six minutes of the third quarter when they extended a 5-point halftime lead to 19 on their way to their second blowout victory over the Jazz this season.
"At the beginning of the third quarter it was our defense," said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. "Our problem was on the defensive end — there were some breakdowns."
The Jazz have been relying a lot more on the 3-point shot themselves this season, firing up threes at a record pace (30 per game) and also making them at a record pace of 38.8 percent, which ranks third-best in the NBA this season.
But after averaging 14.6 3-point makes during their recent six-game winning streak, the Jazz struggled most of the night Thursday. Through three quarters the Jazz were just 6 of 20 before improving in the final quarter and finishing at 11 of 30.
Neither team shot well in the first half when the Rockets sank 7 of 20 from 3-point range, while the Jazz were 4 of 13.
At that point, the Jazz were still within striking distance, down at 51-46, but the Rockets’ 3-point barrage began early in the third quarter.
First James Harden sank a three from out front and Ryan Anderson followed with a three from the left angle. Next it was Harden, who was fouled on a 3-point make for the second time in the game and the resulting free throws made it a 14-point game.
"We went under on Harden and he hit a three. We weren't close enough to Anderson and he hit an open three we fouled James Harden on and-one and that's 10 points," Snyder said. "When that happens, you're asking a lot of your offense to be able to make up for that.
Later, Anderson made back-to-back treys to give the Rockets a 72-53 advantage before the quarter was even half over. When Harden sank another three at the 5:43 mark, it was 77-58 and the Rockets were firmly in control.
In the fourth quarter when the Jazz made a rally to get within 13, the Rockets closed the door with back-to-back threes by P.J. Tucker and Chris Paul.
For the night, Anderson finished 5 of 6 from long range for 23 points, while Harden was 4 of 12 on his way to 27 points. No Jazz player could make more than two 3-pointers as Joe Ingles, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Thabo Sefolosha each made a pair.