Punches thrown as Rockets involved in another heated on-court scuffle

The Houston Rockets were part of another on-court scuffle Saturday, this time against the Utah Jazz.

Jabari Smith Jr. and the Jazz’s Kris Dunn attempted punches after getting tangled up during Houston’s 147-119 win.

Just five seconds into the second quarter, as the Rockets were bringing the ball up, Smith Jr. took offense to Dunn grabbing and holding his jersey.

Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr. (10) and Utah Jazz guard Kris Dunn separated after a scuffle on March 23, 2024 in Houston, Texas. Getty Images

Some pushing and shoving escalated into punches, and teammates and officials had to separate the two players.

Both were ejected following the incident.

This is Houston’s second incident in two games, the first coming Thursday night against the Bulls when Dillon Brooks and DeMar DeRozan were both ejected.

Brooks took offense to a hard foul committed by DeRozan on Jalen Green.

Despite losing both of their big men, Smith Jr. and Alperun Sengun — Sengun has been out with a Grade 3 ankle sprain — the Rockets still managed to blow out Utah.

Jabari Smith Jr. and Kris Dunn had to be separated after throwing punches on Saturday evening. NBA League Pass

Guards Jalen Green and Fred VanVleet combined for 75 points, including 17 three-pointers.

The win extends the Rockets’ win streak to eight games.

Houston has also won 10 of its last 11 games to find itself one-and-a-half games back of the Golden State Warriors for the No. 10 seed in the West, the final play-in tournament spot.

After the win, Rockets head coach Ime Udoka credited Green’s recent play as the catalyst for the Rockets’ late-season turnaround.

Jabari Smith Jr. and Kris Dunn exchange punches. NBA League Pass

“He’s on a hot streak, obviously,” Udoka said. “Just like people have slumps at times, people can go on runs like this. But the main thing is he’s stayed resilient and continued to be confident when things weren’t going great. And all it takes for a really good scorer is to see a few go through. Run off a game or two of hot shooting and it can kind of snowball like this.

“I’m proud of the way he fought through some adversity. It’s not easy with a newer team and some different demands from a coaching staff and doing different things to always stay the course and fight through it. And he’s done that. Great to see him come out on the other side.”

Houston will look to make it nine straight Monday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.

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