New Rockets F Green returns to face Jazz

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With Jeff Green having signed a 10-day contract just before resumption of the regular season, the Houston Rockets are unsure precisely how long the veteran forward will contribute to their ever-evolving roster.

After one trial run, the hope is Green will stick around.

Green scored 17 points and grabbed four rebounds over 24 minutes during his Rockets debut Thursday as Houston posted a 135-105 road victory over the Golden State Warriors. Houston added Green and veteran forward DeMarre Carroll presumably for the stretch run, stockpiling wings capable of providing perimeter defense and 3-point shooting to a roster looking for more of both.

Green and Carroll, who had four assists, three rebounds and two points off the bench against the Warriors in his Houston debut, are likely to remain a part of the rotation on Saturday when the Rockets face the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. It will be the third meeting between the teams since Jan. 27, with the Rockets and Jazz having split the previous two matchups.

It was a promising debut for Green, who played 30 games for the Jazz this season prior to being released roughly two months ago. Green last played on Dec. 23 yet hit the ground running against the Warriors, showing no ill effects from having been unemployed for a stretch.

“A true professional,” Rockets guard James Harden said of Green. “Always ready. Once his name was called, he was ready to go. He obviously made some shots, and defensively, he fits well with what we’re doing.”

Considering the Rockets’ commitment to playing small, Green and Carroll would seem good fits for their philosophical leanings. And, given the depth available on the Houston roster, one anchored by All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Harden, this opportunity appears an attractive one.

“It’s team basketball,” Green said. “We know who our go-to guys are obviously, but we share the ball. Everybody’s aggressive. You take the shot that’s there, and when it’s going in, it’s a beautiful thing.”

Utah had its four-game winning streak snapped with a 113-104 home loss to the visiting San Antonio Spurs on Friday. The Jazz has been on a bit of a roller coaster of late, winning 14 of 15 games before losing five consecutive contests prior to the winning streak that led into the All-Star break.

The Rockets initiated the five-game skid with a 126-117 win in Salt Lake City late last month, doing so while providing a sneak peek of their small-ball plans. Utah returned the favor with a buzzer-beating victory in Houston on Feb. 9, when Bojan Bogdanovic drilled a 3-pointer at the final horn for a 114-113 triumph.

Variance is an expected byproduct of scheduling quirks, but with playoff positioning so crucial in the Western Conference, Utah isn’t in the position to play listlessly against non-playoff contenders.

“We didn’t come ready to play from the jump,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said after the loss to the Spurs. “That’s what happened. We can’t sit here and say, ‘We’ll get them next game.’ We can’t afford to have these games. It’s just tough.

“Fortunately for us, we’ve got another one (Saturday), a big one, and we’ve got to be ready for that.”

Rudy Gobert produced 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Jazz on Friday, and Emmanuel Mudiay came off the bench to add 18 points.

–Field Level Media

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