- Associated Press - Saturday, November 19, 2016

HOUSTON (AP) - With the Utah Jazz attempting a late comeback, James Harden casually tossed an alley-oop to Clint Capela from just inside the halfcourt line for a thunderous dunk.

Harden had 31 points and 10 assists, and Capela scored a career-high 20 points to lead the Houston Rockets to a 111-102 victory over the Jazz on Saturday.

“I knew where he was going to be,” Harden said of the pass. “That’s the kind of chemistry we’re trying to build, to knowing where guys are going to be at so everything works easy and it’s fluent.”

Eric Gordon added 20 points and fellow reserve Nene added a season-high 16 as the Rockets won for the third time in their last four games and improved to 4-1 at home.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said Capela is growing more comfortable and confident on the floor every game.

“He had a monster game, and I don’t think he did anything that he can’t keep repeating,” D’Antoni said. “As long as he runs the floor and screens and rolls, we have guys that will find him.”

The injury-plagued Jazz dropped their third straight game following a 6-2 start to November. Besides Gordon Hayward, the four other Jazz starters had a combined seven years of NBA experience.

Rodney Hood led Utah with 25 points and Trey Lyles had 21. Rudy Gobert added 12 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.

Harden shook defender Dante Exum and buried a 3-pointer with less than a minute remaining to give Houston an 11-point lead and put away the game for good.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder said Harden is “doing everything,” and seems to be a great match with D’Antoni.

“Clearly, he has taken it upon himself to help them execute the way coach D’Antoni wants,” Snyder said. “They are very, very good.”

The Rockets took advantage of Utah’s smaller lineup by outscoring Utah 52-46 in the paint and shying away from the 3-point line a little more than usual. Houston entered the game leading the league with 13.7 3-pointers made and 36.5 3-pointers attempted per game (37.4 percent), but made 12 of 32 against Utah.

“I think we were flat on both ends in the first half,” Gobert said. “We did not attack them on the offensive end and had too many mistakes on the defensive end.”

Houston led 55-44 at the half and maintained the 11-point lead through the third quarter, entering the fourth with an 81-70 lead.


Jazz: Lyles started in place of veteran Boris Diaw (rest) ahead of the team’s trip to Denver on Sunday, Utah’s fourth back-to-back of the season. … Derrick Favors missed his second straight game with a left knee bone contusion, while George Hill (sprained right thumb) missed his seventh straight game.

Rockets: Backup PF Montrezl Harrell was out with a left calf contusion. … Harden passed Robert Reid (8,823 points) for seventh on the franchise’s career scoring list. … Patrick Beverley had five points, six assists and three steals.


Capela recalled playing against Gobert in France and being overwhelmed by his talent as a 16-year-old just getting into basketball. Gobert, 24, is two years older than Capela, 22, who got a late start at the sport. The two conversed in French throughout Saturday’s game, with Gobert even sending Capela a friendly warning at one point.

“He told me to never try to dunk on him again,” Capela said with a grin. “I just told him, ‘Next time I go to dunk, just get out of the way.’”


As part of the ongoing celebration of the franchise’s 50th season, the Rockets honored former shooting guard Vernon Maxwell after the third quarter with a video tribute. Maxwell, who played on both of Houston’s championship seasons in 1993-94 and 1994-95, was given a standing ovation following the video.


Harden became the first Rockets player since Sleepy Floyd in Orlando on April 8, 1990, to have at least 30 points, 10 assists and zero turnovers. Prior to Saturday, the last Rocket to record at least 10 assists without a turnover was Jeremy Lin at Golden State on Feb. 2, 2013.


Jazz: Travel to Detroit on Monday night.

Rockets: Visit Denver on Sunday night.

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