Posted February 29, 2012 on AP on Fox
After a slow start, the Houston Rockets are making a strong push up the Western Conference standings. The Utah Jazz are heading in the opposite direction following their quick start. Houston goes for a fifth consecutive victory - and second over the Jazz in 11 days - on Wednesday night when it opens a road-heavy portion of its schedule with its lone visit to Salt Lake City. Since dropping seven of 10 to begin coach Kevin McHale's tenure, the Rockets (21-14) have climbed into a second-place tie with division rival Dallas in the Southwest as well as fourth overall in the Western Conference. Houston returned from the All-Star break Tuesday and defeated Toronto 88-85 to complete a six-game homestand 5-1 and move a season-best seven-game above .500. While the Rockets' defense has helped them pull out some close wins - they've won their last three by a total of 13 points - the team needs to improve on the offensive end after making a season-low 29 field goals and shooting 38.7 percent against the Raptors. "We're going to have to be much, much better than that starting really soon, like tomorrow night," McHale said. The Rockets had one of their better offensive performances of the season to begin their current winning streak in beating Utah 101-85 on Feb. 19. Led by Kyle Lowry's career high-tying seven 3-pointers and 32 points and 26 from Luis Scola, Houston shot 51.4 percent in that contest for its third straight victory in this series. The Rockets, though, are far from a finished product as they open a stretch of eight of 11 away from home with a 6-10 road record. "We need to win on the road, we need to win big games," Scola said. Utah just needs a win. Since opening the season 10-5, the Jazz (15-18) have dropped into 11th place in the West, 2 1/2 games behind eighth-place Portland. Utah has lost three straight by a combined 13 points. 'We're close. We're fighting hard," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin told the team's official Twitter account following Tuesday's 103-96 loss at Sacramento. "But we're making too many mistakes down the stretch that's cost us ball games." The Jazz couldn't hold on to a seven-point fourth-quarter lead and lost 97-96 in the Rockets' last visit on Feb. 2, 2011. Kevin Martin, who scored on a three-point play with 6.9 seconds left in that game and led Houston with 22 points, will try to find his range Wednesday after missing 12 of 15 shots against Toronto. Martin had 11 points in the Feb. 19 victory, but he's still averaging 24.5 in six games versus Utah since joining the Rockets two years ago. Lowry is scoring a team-best 25.3 points per game while averaging 8.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds during Houston's winning streak in this series, but he's not overlooking the Jazz. "They're going to be very physical," he said after scoring a team-high 26 points with five assists Tuesday. Utah, though, could be thin up front if forward Paul Millsap can't go because of a bruised heel suffered Tuesday. Millsap scored 22 points in the Feb. 19 win. Jazz forward Al Jefferson is averaging 25.4 points and 15.2 rebounds while posting 10 consecutive double-doubles - the last four while with Utah - against the Rockets. He finished with 23 points and 11 boards earlier this month in Houston. The Rockets have been outrebounded in seven consecutive games.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Rockets F Morris cited with misdemeanor

Houston Rockets forward Marcus Morris was cited with misdemeanor battery early Sunday morning, Lawrence city prosecutor Jerry Little said Monday. Morris, who played three seasons at the University of Kansas, was in Lawrence to watch the Jayhawks beat Missouri on Saturday. According to the Lawrence Journal-World on Monday, a Lawrence police spokeswoman said that an employee of The...

NBA Slam Dunk Contest; Jeremy Evans Capitalizes On Exposure

Last year Blake Griffin’s winning dunk (over a Kia) was seen largely as a joke. Well, a gimmick. The actual dunk was not as impressive as the spectacle surrounding it. For those of you that thought there was too much hype in 2011, then 2012 was for you. There was no hype heading into Saturday night’s dunk contest. That was largely due to the contestants. There was no huge...

Jefferson, Millsap and Miles Thank Arena Employees

Each year, hundreds of EnergySolutions Arena security personnel and members of guest services help patrons at Jazz basketball games have a safe, pleasurable experience. In recognition of the many hours these employees work and the outstanding service they provide, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and C.J. Miles sponsored a dinner of appreciation. READ MORE >>

Lowry scores 26, helps Rockets down Raptors

Kyle Lowry scored 26 points, Luis Scola had 15 points and 10 rebounds and the Houston Rockets beat the Toronto Raptors 88-85 on Tuesday night.

Jazz player's girlfriend resolves assault case

HOLLADAY, UTAH (AP) - The girlfriend of Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson entered a plea in court Wednesday to resolve charges that stemmed from her hitting and biting Jefferson during a dispute at their home.Shirley Lewis entered a plea in abeyance Wednesday to a misdemeanor assault charge, and a misdemeanor ...

Miles scores 27 points, Jazz cool down Rockets

C.J. Miles scored a season-high 27 points and the Utah Jazz beat Houston 104-83 on Wednesday night, halting a four-game losing streak and the Rockets' four-game winning streak.

Miles scores 27 to lift Jazz over Rockets 104-83 (Yahoo! Sports)

C.J. Miles scored a season-high 27 points and the Utah Jazz beat Houston 104-83 on Wednesday night, halting a four-game losing streak and the Rockets' four-game winning streak. Devin Harris added 19 points for Utah, which avenged a 101-85 loss in Houston on Feb. 19. Luis Scola led Houston with 18 points, while Kyle Lowery was held to 13 on 4-of-9 shooting after scoring 32 in the first meeting.

Game Day: Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings (2/28/12)

(source feed provided no summary content for this entry)

Suns-Jazz Home Preview

Posted: Feb. 15, 2011 The Utah Jazz blew a double-digit halftime lead against the Phoenix Suns in their first game after Jerry Sloan's abrupt resignation, a loss they've had three days to digest. After a woeful second-half performance Sunday, the Suns know how the Jazz feel. Utah tries again to get coach Tyrone Corbin his first win in Tuesday night's rematch in...

Bordow: Suns Subtract Unhappy Bell, Add Dynamic Scorer

By Scott Bordoweastvalleytribune.com, Dec. 11, 2008 Say this about Suns general manager Steve Kerr: He’s not afraid to take a risk. Clearly, Wednesday’s deal that sent Raja Bell and Boris Diaw to the Charlotte Bobcats for shooting guard Jason Richardson — other, minor pieces were involved as well — is not as big of a gamble as trading Shawn Marion for Shaquille O’Neal...

Visualization: Every All-Star, 1951-2012

In honor of the 61st All-Star Game, we’ve compiled every professional player to ever don an all-star jersey, and sized ‘em up according to number of all-star appearances. Cap takes the all-time cake, having appeared in 18 different contests (selected in 19). The 1976 All–Star Game marked the highest total turnover from the year before of all the contests. Twelve of the 24...
NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.