A new starting five didn’t generate a quicker start, but the Utah Jazz still found a way to finish off a .500 trip.
Now, they get a chance to win their 10th straight in Salt Lake City as they face the road-weary Houston Rockets on Monday night.
Disappointed at his team’s slow start in Friday’s 99-93 loss at Philadelphia, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin inserted Randy Foye and Derrick Favors into the starting lineup Saturday, with Gordon Hayward and Marvin Williams coming off the bench for the first time this season.
Utah pulled out an 83-76 victory over league-worst Washington to split its four-game trip, but a 15-point first quarter and a 37.8 percent shooting effort for the game was not what Corbin had in mind when he adjusted his rotation.
“The last game of a four-game road trip, you typically get a little lower in energy,” he told the league’s official website. “We played last night, but we just didn’t execute on either end of the floor as well as I thought we would.”
It’s uncertain if Corbin will stick with the same starting lineup as Utah tries to improve to 4-0 at home, but forward Paul Millsap doesn’t seem to be a big fan of the new starting five.
“I didn’t feel too comfortable with it,” Millsap said after scoring a season-low six points.
The Jazz, though, have looked at comfortable at home, winning by an average of 13.7 points. Utah is undefeated in Salt Lake City since a 107-105 loss to Phoenix on April 4.
The Jazz, whose last 10-game home winning streak spanned Feb. 24-April 6, 2010, have lost just five times in Houston’s last 28 regular-season visits.
The Rockets (4-6) were routed 104-83 in their last trip to Salt Lake City on Feb. 29. A 103-91 home loss to Utah on April 11 started a late swoon in which they dropped seven of their final nine games last season and missed the playoffs as the Jazz claimed the West’s last postseason spot.
The Rockets’ defense will have to improve if they want contend this season. After falling 119-117 in overtime to Portland on Friday to begin their trip, Houston gave up 40 first-quarter points in Sunday’s 119-108 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. The hosts shot 54.1 percent as the Rockets fell for the sixth time in eight games.
“We still need to be playing a lot better, so there’s no excuse,” Chandler Parsons said of the Rockets playing the last five games without head coach Kevin McHale, who is attending to a personal matter.
Before beginning a stretch of nine of 11 at home on Wednesday, the Rockets will try to avoid a fourth straight road loss. If that’s going to happen, James Harden might have to pick up his scoring after finishing with 20 points on 7-of-18 shooting on Sunday.
The Rockets are 1-6 when he finishes with fewer than 30 points.
Harden leads the team with 49 points on the trip, while Parsons has 43 after scoring a team-best 24 with four 3-pointers on Sunday.
Jeremy Lin who has 21 assists on Houston’s trip, scored 28 points and handed out eight assists the last time he faced Utah, a 99-88 New York victory on Feb. 6, in his first career start.
The Rockets are averaging 45.4 rebounds, with center Omer Asik leading the league at 12.8 per game.
Jazz big man Al Jefferson is scoring 15.5 points per game with a team-best 11.6 rebounds. The Jazz are averaging 46.1 boards.
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