Jazz 104, Rockets 83
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)
By then, the damage had already been done, as Harris pushed the tempo and helped turn an eight-point deficit into a 104-83 blowout victory over the Houston Rockets.
''It was all Devin,'' Jazz center Al Jefferson of Harris, who finished with 19 points before leaving late in the third quarter. ''He attacked. He was a one-man factory tonight. We got behind him. He set the tone, especially after that first quarter.''
The Jazz initially looked like a team that had dropped four straight, turning the ball over 10 times in the first quarter and falling behind 26-18.
The Rockets still led 36-28 after a 3-pointer by Goran Dragic with 7:31 left in the second before the Jazz closed on a 21-8 run, including eight straight points by Harris.
''That's the Devin I used to love and hate because he used to do that to us,'' Jefferson said of Harris' days in Dallas. ''He did it the last couple of games, really stepped it up and attacked the basket. That's going to really get us going.''
C.J. Miles provided the rest of the offensive punch, scoring a season-high 27 points off the bench on 10-of-16 shooting, including three 3-pointers. He started the comeback with nine points in the second quarter, including six straight and nine of 13 in a 4-minute stretch as Utah pulled to 36-35.
''Miles went off on us and we had no answers for that tonight,'' Rockets coach Kevin McHale said.
Utah also stepped it up defensively to halt a four-game losing streak and the Rockets' four-game winning streak.
Utah's losing streak started in Houston 11 days earlier with a 101-85 loss thanks to several 3-pointers by the Rockets - 10 in all and seven by point guard Kyle Lowry.
This time, the Rockets started 0 of 4 from beyond the arc and finished 6 of 23.
And Lowry, who scored 32 points in the first meeting, was held to 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
Jefferson gave Josh Howard plenty of credit on defending Martin.
''He had a hand in his face every time he shot the ball,'' Jefferson said.
After the ugly first quarter, Utah won just about every statistical category. The Jazz held a 58-32 advantage on points in the paint, 50-34 edge in rebounds, 30-22 edge on fast-break points, and 14-8 edge on second-chance points.
''They pushed us on transition ... and we just didn't get back and play with the defensive intensity that we needed,'' Lowry said.
''I think we definitely felt like we got outworked tonight. Those guys played with the intensity and tenacity that a desperate team, (one on) a four-game losing streak, (that) wanted to get a win.''
The Jazz won despite playing without injured starters Paul Millsap and Raja Bell. Millsap missed his first game this season because of a bruised heel while Bell sat out his fourth straight with a strained adductor.
Jefferson added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Utah, and Howard, starting again with Bell out, finished with 14 points. Gordon Hayward had 10 as five Jazz players scored in double figures.
''It's a great win for us,'' Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. ''We talked at the beginning of the year about not having losing streaks of three games or more. This is the first one this year for us. We don't want any more of those.''
As the rout was on Wednesday, the second half turned into the Jeremy Evans show.
Evans was honored before the game as the first Jazz player to win the NBA's Slam Dunk contest. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared Feb. 29, leap day in a leap year, as Jeremy Evans Day.
Evans didn't disappoint the crowd, which saw him throw down a pair of dunks, block three shots and hand out two assists.
''To get the award was amazing, then to come back (home) with a win after All-Star break fun,'' Evans said.
It didn't bother him that fans can only celebrate his special day every four years.
''I'll take every four years, every five if I have to,'' he said. ''It's exciting.''
The win was a needed boost for the Jazz, who started the season 10-5, but lost 11 of 14 in February entering Wednesday night's game.
''It's big,'' Howard said of Friday's game against the Heat. ''The atmosphere is going to be crazy because of the guy coming in with that team, but we have to approach it like any other game and try to learn.''
NOTES: Evans edged Rockets forward Chase Budinger for Saturday's Slam Dunk title, but Budinger insisted before the game there were no hard feelings. ''He had a spectacular dunk, a very unique dunk. I'm happy he won,'' said Budinger, who lost by a percentage point. ... Lowry was assessed a fourth-quarter technical after hitting his second 3-pointer. ... Utah outscored Houston 31-18 in the second quarter as the Rockets shot 31.6 percent and were outscored 18-2 in the paint. ... Utah was 16 of 16 from the free-throw line, and held Houston to 39 percent shooting.