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Jazz make sure Rockets finish winless on road trip

The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Jazz continue to be dominant at home, and the road-weary Houston Rockets can't wait to get back to more familiar surroundings.

Backup guard Gordon Hayward scored 15 points, and Utah starters Randy Foye and Al Jefferson each had 14 points Monday night to lead the Jazz to a 102-91 victory over the Rockets at EnergySolutions Arena.

The Jazz (6-6) led by as many as 23 points and didn't allow the Rockets to get any closer than nine in the second half while improving to 4-0 on their home court this season.

"It's huge for us, especially coming from a road trip," said Hayward, referring to a 2-2 East Coast swing the Jazz returned from after Saturday's win in Washington. "We needed this win, and I think it was a confidence booster for us. We can carry this momentum into the next game."

Houston (4-7) fell for the third time during its three-game trip and for the fourth straight time away from home after beginning 2-0 on the road. The Rockets played the second half without star shooting guard James Harden, who left late in the first half with an upper-respiratory infection after scoring six points on 1-for-6 shooting.

Forward Patrick Patterson led the Rockets with 19 points, Jeremy Lin added 13 and Chandler Parsons contributed a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Houston shot just 34.9 percent from the field against Utah's improved defense.

"There are no excuses for tonight, even though we did play in L.A. (Sunday) night," Patterson said after Houston fell to 1-6 against Western Conference foes. "We're an NBA team. We're all professionals out here. We're all fine. Usually, we're known for transition. We're the ones known for pushing the ball, miss or make, but tonight it seemed the shoe was on the other foot. They were doing that to us."

The Jazz got their transition game going from their defense. Utah had 11 blocked shots, including three by backup center Enes Kanter and two apiece from Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors.

Though he made just four of 12 shots from the field, Jefferson pulled down 16 boards and recorded his eighth double-double of the season. Utah outrebounded Houston 55-49, leading to a 30-19 edge on fast-break points.

"I thought it was a great win for us. Coming back off the road, the first home game is always a tough game," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Houston's a great opponent. They came out with a lot of fight early. We did a good job of sharing the ball. I thought the second group came in and gave us a huge boost moving the ball, got some transition baskets and opened the game for us a little bit."

Corbin also loved that his team dished out 30 assists on 37 made baskets. Reserve guard Jamaal Tinsley led Utah with 11 assists.

Houston started the third quarter strong and used a 6-0 run to pull within 75-66 after Greg Smith's dunk. The Jazz responded with seven straight points, including a rare 3-pointer by Tinsley, to recapture a double-digit lead for good.

The Jazz cooled off after a hot-shooting first half to finish hitting 40.2 percent from the field, but that included a torrid 42.9 percent (9-for-21) from 3-point range.

Even though Houston played the Lakers on Sunday while Utah rested, the Rockets were the ones who came out strong to start the game, scoring the first seven points.

On top of that, the Jazz had to go to their bench quickly, after Favors, the new starting power forward, picked up his second foul just one minute into the game.

That, however, turned out to be a blessing for the Jazz.

An ensuing 13-1 Utah run put the home team ahead 15-10. The Jazz took off again in the second quarter, holding Houston scoreless for almost five minutes while going on a 13-0 surge.

"I really liked the fight of our team tonight," Houston acting coach Kelvin Sampson said. "The first half was just too loose. We weren't sure if James was going to be able to go, but he wanted to try it. He had a temperature, so we shut him down, gave him medicine and tried to get him ready for Wednesday."

Marvin Williams, who replaced Favors early on, led Utah with 12 first-half points. The highlight of the first half, however, was a fast-break alley-oop play featuring two Jazz reserves, with DeMarre Carroll feeding a sprinting Kanter for an impressive dunk.

Utah settled for a 61-44 halftime lead after going ahead by as many as 23 points in the second quarter. The Jazz shot 50 percent in the opening half, while the Rockets made 38.1 percent.

NOTES: Rockets coach Kevin McHale remains away from the team because of a family matter. Houston has gone 2-4 under Sampson's direction. ... Monday's game featured two up-and-coming Turkish centers, Houston's Omer Asik and Utah's Kanter. ... Lin scored 28 points for the Knicks against Utah last season at Madison Square Garden in the second game of his "Linsanity" explosion. He shot 5-for-15 in Monday's loss. ... Parsons' first-half 3-pointer continued his streak of hitting a bomb in each game this season.
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