NBA-leading Jazz beat Rockets 124-116 for 50th victory

Houston Rockets forward DaQuan Jeffries, rear, looks on as Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale (23) lays the ball up during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, May 8, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Houston Rockets forward DaQuan Jeffries, rear, looks on as Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale (23) lays the ball up during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, May 8, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SALT LAKE CITY – Georges Niang tied a career high with 24 points and the NBA-leading Utah Jazz beat the short-handed Houston Rockets 124-116 on Saturday night to reach 50 victories.

Jordan Clarkson scored 21 points, and Bojan Bogdanovic added 20 — his seventh straight 20-point performance — for the Jazz.

Utah finished 5-0 on its homestand despite missing All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley again.

“We just had to really fight through mentally. And just keep pushing ... that’s how we stuck out this win, but I ain’t going to lie to you: This season has been grueling and tiring, but it is what it is and we came here to work,” Clarkson said.

Niang took advantage of some post-ups in the paint and was a sharpshooter from beyond the arc. Starting just his eighth game, Niang scored 10 points in the third quarter and his 3-pointer with 2:50 left in the period gave Utah its largest lead, 96-75.

“I know he’s gonna be at the right spot at the right time,” Utah's Joe Ingles said of Niang. “If I get in the lane and I key to the corner, he’s going to be somewhere in that area and he will definitely shoot it so it’s a good look for us, when he’s out there playing like that with confidence.”

The usually mild-mannered Niang was so fired up, he drew a technical for taunting after draining a 3 that tied his career high of 24 early in the final period. He was 6 of 8 on 3-pointers.

“I usually hold my emotions, and I just happened to lose my cool. That’s not who I am or aspire to be,” Niang said. “I thought he had brushed me in the face on purpose. So I told him that he was too late, like, he wasn’t going to get to my shot anyway.”