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HOUSTON — While it certainly factored into the sluggish start that greased the skids to their demise in Game 1 [url=http://www.bengalscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-vincent-rey-jersey]Vincent Rey Jersey[/url] , the Utah Jazz were inundated with a number of causes behind their loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday in addition to the absence of starting point guard Ricky Rubio.

Defensively, the Jazz were overrun by the Rockets’ exceptional 3-point shooting (17 for 32) and victimized early by some leaky transition defense. Rockets guard James Harden again tormented the Utah defense, cashing in seven 3s en route to a game-high 41 points, and the Jazz lacked energy in the first half following a short turnaround from the completion of their first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder less than 48 hours prior to tipoff.

But the Jazz clearly missed Rubio, despite recording 20 assists on 38 field goals. While rookie guard Donovan Mitchell and veteran swingman Joe Ingles produced five assists each, and Utah received steady play from guards Dante Exum and Alec Burks off the bench, the Jazz didn’t quite have that same verve that Rubio provides with his ball-handling skill and passing acumen.

“I think it makes Donovan handle the ball more than they would like,” said Rockets forward Trevor Ariza, who drew the primary defensive assignment on Mitchell. “He’s their dominant scorer at this point so when he has to handle the ball and get everybody involved in the game, it kind of takes away from him scoring the ball all the time or being aggressive all the time.”

The Jazz also missed the defensive presence of center Rudy Gobert, despite the fact that Gobert logged 35 minutes in the 110-96 loss. A Defensive Player of the Year candidate and league leader by a healthy margin in defensive real plus-minus, Gobert was a non-factor on that end, failing to record a block for the first time this postseason and just the eighth time overall.

Gobert averaged 2.3 blocks and ranked second in the NBA in block percentage (6.0), yet the Rockets had success attacking the rim with Gobert stationed there to defend it [url=http://www.jaguarscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-taven-bryan-jersey]Taven Bryan Jersey[/url] , shooting 8 of 9 with Gobert within three feet of the rim. The key to their success? Doing what comes naturally.

“We just try to be us as much as possible,” Rockets guard Chris Paul said. “I think James said it after last game: We’ve seen just about every defense you can have this past season, so if they switch, we adjust. If you back (up to protect the rim), we adjust. We just keep playing.”

Utah, conversely, can’t afford to maintain the status quo. The Rockets rode robust shooting to a 27-point, first-half lead and continued to exploit a Jazz defense that has stifled almost every other opponent. Harden averaged 34.3 points on 55.4 percent shooting against Utah during the season and looked alarmingly at ease attacking the Jazz off the dribble and from the perimeter.

Rubio, out with a left hamstring strain, won’t be available to save the Jazz on offense. Defensively, Utah understands exactly what is required to ensure a superior performance.

“It takes all five guys on the court communicating, that’s for sure,” Jazz forward Jae Crowder said. “But you have to accept it. So, if they’re cross-matching and they’re running back you just got to demand the guy (to defend in transition) and stick with him for that possession and work it out. And that causes every guy on the court to know each guy’s tendencies and what he likes to do.

“So [url=http://www.bengalscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-mark-walton-jersey]Mark Walton Jersey[/url] , you have to communicate on the court very well in the situation that we’re putting ourselves, which is in transition and working itself out in the half court and getting these guys in front of us and making it as tough as possible.”

The Surpeme Court struck down a 26-year-old federal ban on sports betting on Monday, allowing states to decide whether they want to allow legal wagers on football, basketball, baseball, hockey and other games. Here’s a look at what that means:

Soon, depending on where you live. Officials in three states – Delaware, Mississippi and New Jersey – have pledged to start accepting legal bets within weeks. Three others already had laws on the books authorizing sports betting in the event of a favorable Supreme Court decision, although there likely will be more debate about the specifics. More than a dozen other states either have active legislation to authorize sports gambling or have considered it in the past. Expect those discussions to ramp up, along with more aggressive lobbying in those states by sports book operators and the professional leagues.


It will vary from state to state. Some have authorized commercial casinos to open sports books, while some will offer sports betting products through their state lotteries. Aside from the few states that have worked out those details already, lawmakers and regulators will be deciding whether to allow bets to be placed at casinos, horse racing tracks [url=http://www.broncoscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-josey-jewell-jersey]Josey Jewell Jersey[/url] , off-track betting parlors or even stadiums, and whether to allow online and mobile betting.


The four major U.S. professional leagues and the NCAA spent years fighting New Jersey’s challenge to the constitutionality of the federal ban. Nonetheless, the commissioners of the NBA and Major League Baseball have both said they’re open to the prospect of legal gambling – on their terms. The NBA and MLB have been lobbying states to give a small percentage of the amount wagered back to the league offices. They say they deserve a cut because gambling is entirely dependent on their business, and they need to spend more money to guard against potentially devastating game-fixing scandals. Casino interests argue that Nevada does just fine regulating gambling and flagging suspicious behavior without sending money directly to the leagues.

The NFL, the nation’s most popular spectator sport, will have to reckon with its longstanding opposition to gambling, which many critics say is hypocritical because the league encourages fantasy sports, publishes detailed injury reports that help bookies set odds and schedules several games every season in London, where in-stadium betting is legal. League owners also approved the Raiders moving to Las Vegas, gambling’s mecca in the United States. With the fight against expanded gambling lost for now, the NFL could use its powerful lobbying muscle to partner with the NBA and MLB and seek new federal regulations.

Gambling proponents argue that the leagues will benefit through sponsorships and other tie-ins with sports book operators and enhanced fan interest in their games.

”I think everybody who owns top-four professional sports team just basically saw the value of their team double at least,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told CNBC on Monday.


Once sports betting becomes more widely legal, fans can expect to have the opportunity to bet on their phones during games, a common practice in countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia. Television ratings and subscriptions to streaming services could increase because fans are more interested in games that don’t involve their hometown teams. And discussion of point spreads [url=http://www.bearscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-dick-butkus-jersey]Dick Butkus Jersey[/url] , over/unders and prop bets could become more common among broadcasters and journalists as they seek to remain relevant to how fans are thinking about sports.


Probably not, said Kate Lowenhar-Fisher, a Las Vegas-based attorney who chairs the gaming practice at Dickinson Wright. Illegal bookies have longstanding relationships with their customers, some of whom prefer the anonymity of gambling offshore, and they don’t have to pay taxes or fees. Plus, with states legalizing sports betting in a piecemeal fashion, illegal operators will continue to be more convenient for many bettors.

Savvy businesspeople are also likely to create new gambling products that aren’t specifically addressed by state laws, just as daily fantasy sports companies did while the federal ban was in place.

”Americans will continue to be entrepreneurial, especially finding a way to evade all the compliance costs, tax costs, regulatory costs,” Lowenhar-Fisher said. ”That’s exactly what the fantasy sports operators tried to do – offer sports betting without having to deal with all the things a sports book operator has to deal with.”

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