The Houston Rockets outlasted the Utah Jazz 127-126 in an overtime thriller on Saturday night. The game featured sensational performances from several young stars on both squads.
Sengun’s Career Night Powers Rockets
Second-year center Alperen Sengun exploded for a career-high 37 points to lead the Rockets. The Turkish big man dominated in the paint all night, making 16 of his 21 field goal attempts. He also added 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks.
Sengun scored 8 straight points for Houston during a critical stretch in the 4th quarter. His putback dunk with 27 seconds left tied it up 111-111 to eventually force overtime.
“He’ll retire the greatest Rocket,” one fan tweeted after the Turkish center’s historic performance.
The Rockets also got 24 points from rookie Jabari Smith Jr. Small forward Eric Gordon chipped in 23 points on an efficient 9 of 13 shooting. Point guard Kevin Porter Jr. flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.
Markkanen, Clarkson Lead Jazz Comeback Bid
Utah’s All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen kept the Jazz in striking distance all night. He poured in a team-high 28 points on 11 of 19 from the field. Markkanen did damage both inside and from the perimeter. His stepback triple with 1:09 left in regulation cut Houston’s lead to 108-105.
Sixth man Jordan Clarkson provided a huge boost off the bench. He scored 26 points in just 24 minutes, including a personal 8-0 run early in the 4th. However, Clarkson did miss a potential game-winning jumper as time expired in overtime.
Veteran point guard Mike Conley nearly recorded a triple-double as well, ending with 13 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds.
Rookies Deliver Down Stretch
This exciting matchup featured several promising rookies on both sides. Smith Jr. came up huge for Houston in overtime, scoring 7 of his 24 points in the extra frame. He gave the Rockets a 125-123 lead with his tough layup through contact with 11 seconds left.
Jazz rookie Walker Kessler protected the paint with 3 blocks, including a pivotal swat of Jalen Green‘s dunk attempt in overtime. First-year Houston wing Tari Eason missed his second straight game with a knee injury.
The Jazz continue their road trip against the Mavericks on Monday at 6:30 PM CT. The Rockets host the Timberwolves on Sunday in a matchup between two of the West’s youngest teams. Minnesota won the first meeting this season 142-127 behind 60 combined points from Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell.
With several tight losses lately, this overtime win could provide a confidence boost for Houston’s talented but developing group. For Utah, the narrow defeat stings but their January resurgence suggests brighter days ahead this season.
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