Sports

Jazz top Rockets, continue quest for West’s top seed


FILE – Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz celebrates a play during a game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 26, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Alex Goodlett/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Alex Goodlett / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Georges Niang tied his career-high with 24 points, Jordan Clarkson scored 21 and Bojan Bogdanovic added 20 as the Utah Jazz cruised past the Houston Rockets 124-116 Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

It was the fifth win in a row for Utah, which continues to play without injured All-Star guards Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley.

Utah (50-18) became the first team in the NBA to reach the 50-win mark while also stretching its lead for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs over idle Phoenix (48-19) to 1 1/2 games.

Kenyon Martin Jr. and Khyri Thomas each scored 27 points for the Rockets (16-52), who lost their fifth straight.

Rudy Gobert added 13 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots; Joe Ingles scored 14 points with seven assists and six rebounds; and Royce O’Neale also contributed 13 points.

Both teams were playing for the second night in a row. Utah defeated Denver at home on Friday to clinch the Northwest Division, while the Rockets played well but came up short in Milwaukee.

Houston didn’t make it easy on Utah, keeping it tied at 32-32 after the first quarter and staying within six at halftime, 66-60.

Niang went on a personal 8-0 run to give the Jazz their largest lead to that point in the third quarter at 96-75. Utah led by 22 with 3:37 remaining in the game after a Clarkson bucket.

Houston then scored the final 11 points down the stretch to make the final margin more respectable.

Utah plays three of its final four regular-season games on the road, beginning with a Monday game at Golden State.

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