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Adam Fondren, Deseret News
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) drives the lane and dishes the ball around Houston Rockets forward Ryan Anderson (33) as the Utah Jazz host the Houston Rockets at Vivint Smart Home Arena Salt Lake on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017.
SALT LAKE CITY — When the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets faced each other for the first time this season back on Nov. 5 in Houston, the Rockets held an 18-point lead at halftime and cruised to a 27-point victory.
On Thursday night at Vivint Arena, it appeared the result could be different.
To start, the Jazz and Rockets have been together at the top of the NBA in both offensive and defensive rating over the past few weeks. Second, Utah trailed by just five at intermission.
Less than four minutes into the third quarter, however, the Jazz found themselves down by that same 18-point margin and wound up falling, 112-101.
The Rockets’ win marked their eighth consecutive and 14th in their last 15 games, while Utah dropped its second straight game to move their record back to the .500 mark at 13-13 as they get set for a six-game road trip.
Despite falling down 6-0 early, the Jazz managed to take a 16-15 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter. Houston responded by opening up a nine-point advantage with less than a minute to go in the second quarter before Utah closed the gap heading into intermission.
Then the third quarter happened.
The Rockets scored 10 of the first 11 points in the frame to build a 61-47 edge and didn’t look back from there. With 4:08 remaining in the quarter, Houston was leading by 25, 83-58. While the Rockets didn’t quite have the 48-point third quarter as they did Nov. 5, they still finished with 37, compared to 20 for the Jazz, to take a 22-point lead into the fourth quarter.
“I think we did a good job for three quarters, but the third quarter was too much,” Utah center Rudy Gobert said.
All-Star James Harden scored 12 points in the quarter, and while he didn’t come close Thursday to the career-high 56 he put up…