West Notes: Rockets, Jalen Green, Jazz, Nuggets, Nikola Jokic


The Rockets are already looking like a different team, as evidenced by their blowout win over the Lakers on Wednesday. Jalen Green led the way with 28 points.

“We’re taking the right steps,” first-year coach Ime Udoka told reporters. “We’re confident in what we’re doing and it’s gelling quicker than probably some thought already.”

  • Houston lost its first three games but has won four in a row since. “They’re going to be a handful to deal with this year,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “If they keep up at this rate, they’ll be a handful not just for us, but the other 28 teams besides us.”
  • Green said he’s just excited to be part of a winning environment. “It’s a blessing,” he told reporters. “I’ve been in a losing category for so long. So it’s good just to see the results and the progression that the team is (making).”


The Jazz have struggled defensively in the early season and look worse than last season despite the addition of forward John Collins.

“We’ve got to do a better job higher on the floor,” coach Will Hardy said, via Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. “We cannot let the ball handler break the free throw line over and over and over again.”

  • Utah is expected to be without starting center Walker Kessler (elbow) for another couple weeks, but even when healthy, the Jazz seem out of sorts with Kessler and Collins on the court together, Todd wrote.
  • At 2-7, the Jazz are tied with the Pistons for the NBA’s second-worst start. The 1-7 Grizzlies are first worst.
  • Rookie Keyonte George proved he’s the best point guard on Utah’s roster in his first start, wrote Tony Jones of The Athletic.


  • Nikola Jokic was again fantastic with 35 points and 13 rebounds, as the Nuggets held off the Warriors on Wednesday. “We feel like it’s a good group of guys and we are playing the right way,” Jokic told reporters. “I think that’s why we’re winning the games.”
  • Coach Michael Malone said that the bench struggled, which is why Jokic and several of the other starters were on the floor for so long. “I’m not the Salvation Army. I’m not just going to give minutes,” Malone quipped. “You have to continue to earn your minutes.”

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  1. Rockets look so precise right now. Complete turnaround in Houston. Great coaching. Great offseason roster decisions (esp Van Vleet).

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