Hayward scores 31, leads Jazz to 120-101 win over Rockets
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder explained his team's offensive explosion Tuesday night in the most basic way - they made shots.
Gordon Hayward scored a season-high 31 points, helping the Jazz beat the Houston Rockets 120-101 for their season-best fourth straight win.
''Sometimes it's as simple as that,'' Snyder said. ''We've been getting some pretty good looks. Tonight the ball went into the basket.
''You take it when you can get it because sometimes it goes the other way.''
Utah started strong en route to a season high for scoring. Rodney Hood had 10 points during a 20-5 first-quarter run after trailing 16-9, and Houston never led again. Hood finished with 19 points.
Rudy Gobert recorded his 11th double-double of the season with 16 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. Hayward had seven assists and five rebounds.
James Harden scored 26 points but was an inefficient 8 for 23 from the field. He also had seven assists and five rebounds, while Eric Gordon scored 24 points off the bench.
Hayward said the game was won on the defensive end by forcing Harden into tough shots and keeping everyone else in check.
''I started to get some better looks in the fourth quarter and got in a little bit of a rhythm,'' Hayward said. ''Teammates found me in good spots. Able to knock down some shots and see the ball go in. And that was that.
''We wanted to make sure that we made some of their guys guard. They're so good on the offensive end, that's kind of what they want to get to.''
Utah rolled through the first half behind some dead-eye shooting from the entire roster. The team shot 54.8 percent from the field, including nine 3-pointers, to take a 62-50 lead into the break. The Rockets were 4 for 17 from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes, accounting for the biggest difference between the teams in the half.
''We were a step slow at everything,'' Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. ''When we switched, we didn't switch out. We didn't pick up at the right points. Defensively, we just did not bring everything we had. Whether we're tired or whatever the reason, it doesn't matter. We'll try to figure that out. But we didn't have the same intensity.
''I just thought the whole game it looked like we were running in mud.''
Rockets: Houston is 5-2 since Patrick Beverley returned from knee surgery. ... The Rockets are 2-1 during the current five-game road trip. ... They made 11 3s and have hit at least 10 3-pointers in their last 17 games, an NBA record.
Jazz: The 62 first-half points were a season high. ... Utah is 10-2 when leading at halftime. ... Derrick Favors missed his seventh consecutive game with a left knee bone contusion. ... The 55.4 shooting percentage was a season high.
Hood left in the third quarter with a right hamstring strain and did not return. The Jazz have been plagued by injuries again this year as Hayward, George Hill, Favors, Boris Diaw and Alec Burks have all missed time due to injury.
GO, GO, GO
Mike D'Antoni wants his teams to play fast, and that's usually a player-friendly system. The Rockets coach, however, said it's easier said than done.
''All players say they want to run and most players don't, actually,'' he explained. ''It's sexy to say, yeah, we're a running team. But it does take some mental energy to go out and do that every day and just get into the habit.
''I've done both ways. I think it's more taxing to play halfcourt basketball and slug it out with somebody than to run around. But they fall back into old habits and old habits are just walking the ball down. That's hard to break up sometimes.''
''They wanted us to score 1-on-1,'' Gordon said. ''They didn't want us to kick out for 3s and that's why you didn't see a lot of that.''
Rockets: Travels to play the Warriors on Thursday night for the first time this season in a meeting of former Thunder stars James Harden and Kevin Durant.
Jazz: Host the Heat on Thursday night. The Jazz won their previous meeting by 11 nearly three weeks ago.