OT win lifts Jazz past Rockets into 8th place
(The Sports Xchange) - After being one of the hottest teams in the NBA before the All-Star break, the Utah Jazz were in danger of losing more ground in the playoff race Tuesday night.
Despite a hot-shooting performance, the Jazz lost a double-digit lead and came close to dropping 1 1/2 games behind the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference standings.
Instead, the second-least-experienced team in the NBA did something it has struggled to do for years: winning a close game.
Houston guard James Harden led all scorers with 42 points, but forward Gordon Hayward and the Jazz spoiled his big night with an important 117-114 overtime victory over the Rockets.
"This was not like a real pretty game by any means, but it's a game that we won," Utah coach Quin Snyder said. "We got a group that's learning how to do that."
Hayward scored 28 points despite only taking seven shots from the field (and making six). He went 13-for-15 from the foul line and hit three of four 3-pointers. He also had seven rebounds and five assists.
Hayward returned to action after being poked in the eye in the fourth quarter.
"It was just hard to focus, honestly, just blurry for a good 10 minutes," he said. "I had to get back in the game, though, and had to do what I could to get back. ... (I'm) proud of this win. We needed it."
Power forward Derrick Favors contributed 19 points and 12 rebounds for Utah. Favors made a key put-back bucket late in overtime, and the Rockets missed two game-tying 3-point attempts in the final seconds. Continued...