Luka Samanic scores 22, helps Jazz snap 13-game skid with 124-121 win over Rockets


SALT LAKE CITY — Luka Samanic scored a season-high 22 points to help the Utah Jazz snap a 13-game losing streak with a 124-121 victory over the Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

Keyonte George chipped in 20 points for the Jazz, who finished 21-20 at home this season. Brice Sensabaugh added 17 points and Talen Horton-Tucker had 16. Kenneth Lofton Jr. scored a season-high 14 points and added nine rebounds.

Houston made 21 3-pointers and outscored Utah in second-chance points and fast-break points. The Jazz persevered and found a way to get in the win column for the first time since mid-March and end the third-longest losing streak in franchise history.

“That desperation that we played with throughout most of the game, but in particular in the second half, is who we’re aiming to be always,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said.

Fred VanVleet knocked down nine 3-pointers and scored a season-high 42 points for the Rockets, who lost for the sixth time in seven games. VanVleet was 9 for 13 from 3-point range while also tallying seven assists and seven rebounds. But he also went just 3 of 17 from inside the arc.

Cam Whitmore added 18 points while also making four 3s. Amen Thompson chipped in 15 points, 10 rebounds and two steals.

“We should be concerned, should be disappointed, should be (angry) at ourselves because it was a wasted opportunity,” VanVleet said.

Down three at halftime, the Jazz opened the third quarter with four unanswered baskets. VanVleet and Aaron Holiday combined for five 3-pointers to erase the deficit. Holiday’s back-to-back 3s made it 89-84 for Houston.

Utah countered with a 14-3 run late in the third and took a 98-92 lead on Sensabaugh’s second-chance corner 3.

VanVleet tied it on a pair of free throws with 2:30 left but the Jazz pulled away for good. Back-to-back layups from Darius Beazley and George keyed a 6-0 run that put Utah up 124-118 with 54 seconds remaining.

“We played extremely hard,” George said. “Our communication was at an all-time high. We did everything the right way and we got the result we wanted.”

VanVleet and Jeff Green each made back-to-back 3-pointers to key a 14-4 run that gave the Rockets a 38-28 lead going into the second quarter.

Houston shot 62% from the perimeter during the first quarter. VanVleet led the way, knocking down six of those 3s and scoring 20 points. His final outside basket beat the first-quarter buzzer to give the Rockets their first double-digit lead.

Utah erased the deficit in the second quarter behind a 13-0 run. Houston went scoreless for three minutes during that stretch. Horton-Tucker capped Utah’s run with a pair of free throws that put the Jazz up 51-49.

“Habits are hard to break and mentalities are hard to change and that’s why we are where we are record-wise and not achieving our goals,” Rockets coach Ime Udoka said. “You’d be better off saying you don’t want to play and get people out there that really want to play.”

UP NEXT

Rockets: Visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.

Jazz: Visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA



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