Rockets aim for 2-0 start in visit to Salt Lake City

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets already got their season opener out of the way on a high note and the Utah Jazz will try to spoil the party when they get the 2014-15 campaign going Wednesday in Salt Lake City.

The Jazz kick off a new regime with a new head coach, players with more experience and a new attitude.

Utah was the worst team in the Western Conference last season with a 25-57 record and missed the playoffs for the third time in four years. This isn't your Jerry Sloan Jazz team from years past, but Utah is hoping it can get back there in a few years.

Not much is expected from the Jazz once again and there's a new head coach in Salt Lake City. Quin Snyder will be drawing up plays for the Jazz and was named head coach back in June. Tyrone Corbin was not offered a new contract and Snyder gets his shot at becoming a head coach in the NBA.

"The opportunity to join the Utah Jazz and to be part of such a highly respected franchise with an incredibly bright future is a great honor," Snyder said. "I approach this opportunity with gratitude and humility and am committed to doing everything I can to help the Jazz become a championship- caliber team."

Snyder has some talent to work with in Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Trey Burke and Enes Kanter. It appears the Jazz are committed to building around Hayward, who established career-best averages of 16.2 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game. The Charlotte Hornets offered Hayward a four-year deal worth $63 million and Utah matched it.

"As we have said since the start of last season, we have always seen Gordon Hayward as a significant part of the future of the Utah Jazz," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "Gordon is a young, multi-faceted player and a high-character individual who we are pleased will remain a member of the Jazz for many years to come."

Lindsey hopes rookie Dante Exum can establish himself as another young piece to the puzzle. Exum was the fifth pick of this summer's NBA Draft and brings speed and ball handling skills to Utah. Rodney Hood was the Jazz's other first-round draft pick and went 23rd.

The Jazz, whose roster has 11 players under the age of 25, have lost four of their last five season openers, but are 12-3 in lid lifters at Energy Solutions Arena. Utah is 1-1 in season openers with Houston and 18-22 all-time in Game No. 1.

Houston took care of the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-90, Tuesday night in the season opener for both clubs at Staples Center. Former Laker Dwight Howard had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and James Harden led all scorers with 32 points, making 7-of-17 from the field and 15-of-16 free throws.

Trevor Ariza scored 16 points in his Houston debut and Terrence Jones also netted 16 for the Rockets, who scored 31 points in each of the first two quarters. Ariza was 5-of-8 from 3-point range and the Rockets made 12 of their 29 3-point attempts.

"We looked pretty solid on defense," said Harden. "We did a pretty good job of executing. For me, it's just getting into a rhythm."

Kobe Bryant had 19 points for the Lakers.

The Rockets won two of three games against the Jazz last season. Utah has a 62-29 record all-time against Houston in Salt Lake City. Hayward averaged 18.3 points against Houston last season. Harden scored 25 ppg in the three games.