SALT LAKE CITY - Missing stars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, the Houston Rockets are counting quite a bit on their 3-point shooting early in the season.
So far, it’s gotten them off to a 3-1 start.
Rookie Chase Budinger scored a career-high 17 points and was one of four Houston players with multiple 3-pointers as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz, 113-96, on Monday night.
“We have to manufacture points. We have good shooters on this team, so we’re going to be really aggressive,” said Shane Battier, who hit three 3-pointers and scored 13. “Some nights it’s going to backfire and we’re going to look terrible, but some nights we can get it rolling and really score a lot of points from beyond the arc.”
The Rockets made 10-of-19 3-pointers while winning their third in a row.
Houston was 25-58 on the road against the Jazz entering Monday and hadn’t won in Utah since spoiling the Jazz’s home opener two years ago. The Rockets led by three points entering the fourth quarter, then blew open the game with a 13-0 run early in the final quarter.
“All I have heard of is how tough it is to win here,” said Budinger, a rookie out of Arizona whose previous high was 11 points. “People are just amazed how bad we kind of beat them just because that doesn’t happen here.”
It happened Monday because Rockets were playing like the Jazz intended to. Houston outrebounded Utah, 46-38, and had 29 assists to the Jazz’s nine. It was the Rockets, not the Jazz, who were passing the ball around for open shots, then kicking it outside.
“I thought tonight we had maybe the best ball movement we’ve had all year,” coach Rick Adelman said. “The 29 assists could have been a lot more. Everyone was moving the ball well.”
Eight Houston players scored in double figures.
Aaron Brooks had 19 points and nine assists and Luis Scola added 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Rockets (3-1), who made eight of their first 12 shots in the fourth quarter to blow open a three-point game.
Chuck Hayes had 12 points and nine rebounds, Trevor Ariza scored 15 and Carl Landry and Kyle Lowry added 10 points each for the Rockets, whose reserves outscored Utah’s, 40-13.
“If you’re not going to defend, it’s pretty tough to have a chance to win,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. “They got on top of the basket, they drove around us, they went up to the ball on the boards and they passed the ball.”
Deron Williams had 18 points and eight assists and Andrei Kirilenko added 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks for the Jazz (1-2).
Mehmet Okur scored 21 and Ronnie Brewer had 19 points for the Jazz.
Utah was 13-for-35 shooting in the second half, going more than 7 minutes without a field goal late in the third quarter. Carlos Boozer went 1-for-6 while scoring seven points and Williams was 6-for-20 from the floor for Utah, which was 13-for-35 in the second half.
The Jazz, who said throughout the exhibition season they wanted to improve defensively and avoid another late-season collapse, have allowed 325 points in three games – an average over 108.
“We’ve just got to have more determination to come out and get stops and not let people score,” Williams said. 1 FIVE MORE YEARS FOR RONDO Rajon Rondo says he has agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Celtics, keeping the star point guard from becoming a restricted free agent.
2 ROBINSON’S ANKLE HURTING Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni says guard Nate Robinson could miss two weeks because of a sprained right ankle. The former UW star was hurt Saturday night.
3 T-WOLVES WEIGH OPTIONS The Timberwolves have exercised contract options for next season on Corey Brewer ($3.7 million in his fourth year) and Kevin Love ($3.6 million in his third year).
4 NETS’ YI HURTS KNEE Nets forward Yi Jianlian injured the medial collateral ligament in his right knee in Monday night’s loss to Charlotte. Yi will undergo an MRI today to determine its severity.
5 REDD OUT FOR TWO WEEKS Bucks guard Michael Redd is out for at least two weeks after straining a tendon in his left knee. Redd tore two ligaments in the same knee last season.