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Lauri Markkanen’s career-high 49 help Jazz ground Rockets

Jan 5, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Utah Jazz forward Jarred Vanderbilt (8) and Houston Rockets center Alperen Sengun (28) reach for a loose ball in the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Lauri Markkanen scored a career-high 49 points, Malik Beasley added 19 off the bench, and the Utah Jazz snapped a five-game losing skid with a 131-114 road win over the Houston Rockets on Thursday.

Markkanen finished 15-for-27 from the floor and 13-for-13 from the free-throw line. Beasley, who entered play fifth in the NBA in 3-pointers made despite making only five starts, shot 5 of 11 from behind the arc. Markkanen, whose previous high was 38 points, also corralled eight rebounds.

Utah shot 19 of 48 from deep as a team, with Markkanen going 6 of 15 on 3-pointers.

Jalen Green led the Rockets with 30 points. Kevin Porter Jr. added 23 points while Alperen Sengun paired 20 points with 14 rebounds. Houston also received 11 points from Jae’Sean Tate in his return from a 31-game injury absence, yet dropped its eighth consecutive home game.

Markkanen seemingly had an answer for every Rockets run. Eric Gordon, Green and Jabari Smith Jr. buried a succession of 3s that cut what was a 10-point deficit to 70-67 with 8:56 left in the third quarter. Markkanen followed with a three-point play, an assist on a Jordan Clarkson (19 points) floater and two free throws that pushed the lead back to 10 points one minute later.

When Tate gave the Rockets their first lead since the first quarter at 86-85 with a 3, Markkanen contributed a pair of free throws to a 10-0 run the Jazz used to close the third. When rookie Ochai Agbaji opened the fourth with a dunk and a pair of 3s, the Jazz reclaimed their cushion.

Markkanen was the linchpin of a 20-3 run that enabled the Jazz to seize a double-digit lead in the first quarter. He scored 13 of his 18 first-quarter points during the stretch, burning three 3-pointers in addition to a pair of dunks that turned an 11-7 deficit into a 27-14 advantage.

After Markkanen helped stake the Jazz to the lead in the first quarter, Beasley made sure Utah maintained it entering the intermission. Beasley tallied 14 points in the second quarter, drilling four 3s in the process, to help the Jazz stave off the Rockets’ 33-point period with 33 of their own. Houston made headway in the second by making 11 of 13 free throws, but the Rockets also committed nine turnovers in the first half and allowed the Jazz to connect on 11 of 26 from deep and trailed 64-56 at the half.

–Field Level Media