HOUSTON — Earlier today, Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin called tonight's showdown with Houston Rockets a "huge game."
His team played like it.
After a bit of a slow start — falling behind by six early on — the Jazz played with extra oomph and hustle while using a 12-2 spurt to gain control of momentum and tempo in the first half.
The Jazz shot 57.9 percent over the first 24 minutes compared to 41.9 percent by the Rockets.
Utah eventually went up by as many as 18 points and then held tough after an inevitable Rocket run, which cut the lead down to four again.
The Jazz (31-28) moved back into the No. 9 spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
Utah only had 10 players available because of injuries, including Jeremy Evans' sprained ankle. Newly acquired Blake Ahearn did not get in the game despite Devin Harris' foul problems.
The Rockets, led by Goran Dragic's 19 points, fell to 32-26.
Al Jefferson contributed 15 points and eight rebounds, Derrick Favors gave the Jazz a huge lift off the bench with 11 points and 10 boards and DeMarre Carroll chipped in with 10 points, seven rebounds and a bunch of energy.