SALT LAKE CITY — For a fast-and-furious stretch of the second quarter Monday night, the Utah Jazz played as well as they have all season. And it left coach Tyrone Corbin and his players with an odd mix of feelings: two parts satisfaction, one part relief.
Satisfaction because they beat the Houston Rockets easily, 102-91. Relief because they were back inside EnergySolutions Arena, where they are 4-0.
Utah spent the previous week going 2-2 on a tough road trip into the Eastern Conference.
“Well, I thought it was a great win for us,” Corbin said. “Coming back off the road, the first home game is always a tough game.”
The Jazz (6-6) held to a tight 29-26 lead after the first quarter, then went on a blistering 15-2 run to start the second. That stretch, filled with fastbreak dunks and 40-foot outlet passes, put Utah in control for the rest of the night.
Gordon Hayward came off the bench to score a team-high 15 points and fellow reserve Marvin Williams added 12 points to help the Jazz’s effort.
Prior to last week’s win at Washington, Corbin juggled his starting lineup and moved both Hayward and Williams to the bench in an effort to spark his reserves.
After Monday’s game, Corbin was hesitant to call them “bench” players.
“They’re not on the bench, we just (say) we didn’t start them,” he said.
Whatever he calls it, it seems to be working.
Hayward has scored 30 points in his last two games and Williams has added 19.
After the game, Hayward caught himself in mid-sentence, initially referring to “coming off the bench,” but quickly changing the expression to playing on “the second unit.”
That group was on the floor for most of that decisive second-quarter run.
Hayward scored once, Williams hit a 3-pointer and DeMarre Carrol added seven points and a dazzling assist to Enes Kanter, who finished the play with a rim-rattling dunk.
The Jazz finished the game with 11 blocked shots and, despite shooting just 40 percent from the field, had 30 assists on 37 made baskets. They also held the Rockets — who played the second half without star James Harden (upper respiratory infection) — to just 35 percent shooting.
“Defense. It all starts with defense with us,” Hayward said. “Once we get stops, we can push it. When we do that, we’ve got the athletes and the versatility. We’re pretty good when we do that.”
Williams offered the same response when asked about the second-quarter run.
“Defense. Flat-out defense,” he said. “We played with a ton of energy on the defensive end, got (the Rockets) to miss shots and converted on the other end.”
Center Al Jefferson led the Jazz starters with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Shooting guard Randy Foye went 4-for-7 from behind the 3-point line and also recorded 14 points.
Paul Millsap had 10 points, eight assists and two blocked shots.
Patrick Patterson led the Rockets (4-7) with 19 points and point guard Jeremy Lin added 13.
Harden, who came into the game averaging 26 points per contest this season, played only 17 minutes. He finished with six points on 1-for-6 shooting.
The Rockets have now lost four in a row on the road. “Overall, I thought it was a good team effort,” Corbin said. “I thought the guys did a tremendous job of reading each other on both ends of the floor and feeding off each other.”
The Jazz fell behind 7-0 to start the game, due in part of Derrick Favors’ two quick fouls. Corbin quickly brought Marvin Williams off the bench and he responded with two 3-pointers in a three-minute stretch.
His second 3 put the Jazz ahead 11-10 and after that, they never trailed.