Williams lifts Jazz past Rockets 109-103

Gordon Hayward’s pinpoint shooting got the Utah Jazz off to

their best start of the season and Marvin Williams made the plays

at the end for their most impressive victory of the season.

Williams scored five points in the final two minutes, Hayward

broke out of a shooting slump to score 29 points and the Jazz

earned their first back-to-back wins of the season with a 109-103

victory over the Rockets on Monday night.

”What a huge win for us,” Williams said. ”Houston has been

playing really, really well. For them to come into our building and

put up a big-time fight and then for us to come out on top is a

great feeling.”

With Utah clinging to a 101-98 lead, Williams stole James

Harden’s pass and raced down for a dunk with 2 minutes left.

”Thankfully I was able to take advantage of a miscommunication

on their part. It was a huge break for us,” Williams said.

Williams, who has been playing with a mask since breaking his

nose last month, then hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with

59 seconds to go to boost the lead to 108-100.

”Gordon made a very, very unselfish play,” Williams said. ”I

thought he was going to shoot it. He was really going and had been

making plays all night for us. I’m glad I stayed there and stayed

ready.”

Rookie Trey Burke posted career highs of 21 points and six

assists for Utah, which shot 54 percent and made 10 of 17 from

beyond the arc. The Jazz were coming off a 112-104 win over the

Suns on Saturday

Harden had 15 of his season-best 37 points in the fourth quarter

to keep the Rockets close, but they couldn’t get enough defensive

stops.

”We just didn’t defend. We go through mental lapses where we

don’t lock down on the defensive end. We gave up too many points to

fight our way back,” Harden said.

For a change, it was the Jazz making crucial plays at the

end.

”We’re learning from the other games and not making the same

mistakes twice,” Hayward said. ”Don’t get me wrong, we still have

a lot of improvement as a basketball team and as individuals, but

it’s good to see we didn’t let this one slip away like we did early

in the year.”

Dwight Howard had 15 points and Francisco Garcia and Omri Casspi

had 13 apiece as Houston lost for only the second time in its last

10 games. The Rockets have averaged 111 points on 51 percent

shooting during the stretch.

Harden weaved through a trio of Jazz players and scored a crafty

layup to tie the game at 86-all with 8:07 to play. Alec Burks

answered with a 3-pointer and the Jazz led the rest of the way.

Burke started the season on the injured list with a broken

finger but has found his rhythm in the past few games. His hot play

has coincided with Utah’s best stretch of the season as the Jazz

have won three of four after dropping 14 of their first 15

games.

”It’s a matter of the players and coaches having confidence in

me and just taking what the defense is giving me,” Burke said.

The Jazz put the ball in the rookie’s hands and let him make

plays down the stretch. In the fourth quarter, Burke had seven

points and six assists and marked a career-best in points for

second straight game. Add in Hayward’s savvy all-court game and the

Jazz finally look like a formidable team at times.

”The greatest thing was (Hayward and Burke) made plays for

their teammates,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. ”They attacked

and were able to get everybody involved and it threw (Houston) off

a little bit.”

Hayward made 12 of 18 shots to regain his shooting confidence.

His early hot streak sparked the Jazz to lead by as many as 14

points in the first half. Over the previous nine games, Hayward

made just 36 of 123 attempts for 29 percent.

”I got going early by getting some easy buckets in transition

and anytime you see the ball go through the hoop like that, it sets

the tone,” said Hayward, who had 17 points in the first

quarter.

The Jazz shot 59 percent from 3-point range, while Houston hit

32 percent (9 of 28) from beyond the arc.

The two teams played here exactly one month ago when Chandler

Parsons scored 24 points and the Rockets outscored the Jazz 64-37

in the second half to win 104-93. Parsons sat out this game with a

sore back and the Rockets had only Harden and Aaron Brooks, who had

13 points, as playmakers in the fourth quarter.

”We had plenty of guys to win this game today. It had nothing

to do with who wasn’t there,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said.

Since Burke recovered sufficiently to play starter minutes, the

Jazz have reached 100 points in three games for the first time all

season. Before this run, Utah only had one contest in which they

topped the century mark.

NOTES: Jeremy Lin missed his third game with a sprained and

bruised right knee. … Houston was outscored 36-23 in the first

quarter. … The Rockets had 54 points in the paint.