Eric Christian Smith, AP
Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon, left, shoots as Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

HOUSTON — The Utah Jazz started strong and played tough in holding off Houston to earn an important road victory, beating the Rockets 115-108 Wednesday night.

Utah built a 64-53 halftime lead, then weathered several Houston attempts to rally in the final two quarters. The Jazz shot 53.9 percent from the field and made 21 of 24 free throws. The Rockets shot more free throws, but at a worse percentage (30 of 40).

Houston pulled within four points several times in the final four minutes, but a Joe Johnson 3 with 1:24 to play and a missed Pat Beverley layup after a Rockets steal proved critical in helping the Jazz earn the win. Rudy Gobert then hit a jumper to make it 112-106 with 47 seconds left and Utah finished out the victory.

Most importantly, the Jazz took the season series two games to one with the win and pull within three games of the Rockets in the Western Conference standings.


Numbers

• The Jazz hit 12 3-pointers to eight for Houston, which shot just 25 percent from behind the arc.

• Utah had four players in double-figure scoring: Gordon Hayward (23), Gobert (23), Rodney Hood (19) and Johnson (16).

• The Jazz moved their winning streak to four games.

Records: Jazz (41-24), Rockets (44-21)


Leaders

Jazz: Hayward had 23 points, three 3-pointers and eight assists, while Gobert added a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Rockets: Harden had 35 points, four rebounds, six assists and two steals.


Up next

Jazz: at Oklahoma City, Saturday, 1 p.m. MST

Rockets: at Chicago, Friday, 6 p.m.