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Jazz halt Rockets win streak

The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY -- Break up the ... Utah Jazz?

In the span of a week, the Jazz have gone from the laughingstock of the NBA to one of the league's hotter teams.

They surprisingly continued their winning ways against the streaking Rockets on Monday night.

Guard Gordon Hayward snapped out of a slump and rookie Trey Burke had a career night as the Jazz beat the Rockets 109-103 at EnergySolutions Arena.

Hayward scored a season-high 29 points, including 17 in the first quarter, and Burke totaled career bests with 21 points and six assists in the victory.

"It was important for us to get that win," Hayward said.

Guard James Harden scored a game-high 37 points for the Rockets (13-6), who saw their five-game winning streak snapped. Houston dug out of an early 14-point hole but was unable to overcome the hot-shooting Jazz in the second half.

"It was a bad start. (We) came out and had a bad energy level," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "We just weren't ready to play."

The Jazz, who began the season 1-14, improved to 4-15 with their second win in a row and third in four games.

Reserve guard Alec Burks added 21 points and center Derrick Favors contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds in Utah's biggest win of the season.

Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin credited his players "energy and focus" for making the difference. Utah had season highs for overall shooting (.544) and from 3-point land (10 of 17).

"I thought the coaches did a great job with the scouting report and the guys implemented it very well for the most part," Corbin said. "We came out with a lot of energy. ... I thought they executed very well."

Guard Aaron Brooks cut Utah's lead down to 97-96 with three minutes, but the Jazz played some clutch basketball down the stretch.

Burke, who hit nine of 18 shots, put the Jazz up 99-96 with a layup, and forward Marvin Williams stretched that lead to 101-96 with a steal and slam at the two-minute mark.

Harden followed with a dunk, but a Burks runner and Williams 3-pointer helped Jazz get some payback after blowing a 19-point lead in a 104-93 home loss to Houston a month ago.

"Everybody's developing a chemistry," Favors said. "Everybody's sharing the ball. We're just playing as a team, playing unselfish on the offensive end and on the defensive end, and it's showing off in the game."

Harden gave the Rockets some hope in the final moment by hitting from beyond the arc to cut the lead to five points, but Williams blocked Brooks' driving attempt with 15 seconds remaining to seal the Utah win.

Center Dwight Howard had a relatively quiet night with 15 points and nine rebounds for a Houston team that was missing starters Jeremy Lin (sprained knee) and Chandler Parsons (back spasms) with injuries.

McHale, whose team had an exciting win in San Antonio on Sunday, wouldn't use their absences as an excuse.

"We had plenty of guys to win this game today," he said. "It had nothing to do with who wasn't there. It's the guys who were here and how they played."

NOTES: Rockets PG Jeremy Lin will be re-evaluated after two weeks. ... Rockets F Chandler Parsons tried to get himself ready to go, doing stretches in the locker room an hour before the game, but ended up missing his first game this season. ... C Dwight Howard is the only Houston player to have appeared in all 19 games. He believes the Rockets' depth will help them sustain temporary absences. "Our bench has been playing great," he said. "This is something we have faced this year with injuries. Everyone has to be ready to step up." ... This game featured two of the four Turkish players in the NBA: Houston's Omer Asik and Utah's Enes Kanter. Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova and Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu are Turkey's other two players. "It's always good to see other Turkish players on the court playing in the NBA," Kanter said. "To represent a country, it's really important."
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