SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gordon Hayward scored 28 points and the Utah Jazz defeated the Houston Rockets 117-114 in overtime Tuesday night in a game with significant playoff implications.
The victory moved the Jazz into the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoff race, a half-game ahead of the Rockets.
The first tiebreaker for a two-way tie is head-to-head winning percentage. The Rockets fell to 2-1 against the Jazz this season.
It was Harden’s eighth 40-point game, tying him with Stephen Curry.
Rodney Hood made a 3 over Dwight Howard with 51.9 seconds left in OT to give the Jazz a 115-112 lead. Harden followed with a layup, but Derrick Favors‘ putback pushed the margin to 117-114 with 11.8 seconds to go.
Favors finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Howard had 13 points and 16 rebounds.
The Rockets rallied in the third quarter behind a spectacular effort from Harden, but Trey Burke hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Jazz retook the lead.
Utah jumped out to a 34-23 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to a 15-2 run. The highlight of the half came on Hood’s crossover, step-back 3-pointer over Howard to beat the buzzer.
Turnovers, however, kept the Rockets in it. Utah committed 16 turnovers in the first half that Houston converted into 23 points.
Rockets: Houston is 24-22 since J.B. Bickerstaff took over as interim coach. … Trevor Ariza scored 18 points but the Rockets were minus-12 when he was on the court. … Patrick Beverley finished with 14 points. … The Rockets have played six overtime games this season.
Jazz: Utah rallied in the fourth quarter with the lineup of Burke, Hood, Favors, Chris Johnson and Trevor Booker. … The Jazz were outscored 32-23 in the third quarter. … Hood had a career-high five steals. … The Jazz have played eight overtime games this season.
THAT WAS QUICK
The Jazz traded for Shelvin Mack on Thursday and he moved into the starting lineup Tuesday after playing just one game. Raul Neto was the first point guard off the bench after starting 53 games. Burke checked in with 11:25 left in the second quarter. Mack scored a season-high 17 points. Coach Quin Snyder indicated before the game that he’d like to stick to one starting lineup down the stretch. “We’re not at a point now where we need to be making changes all the time and trying to find combinations and things like that,” Snyder said. “We’ve done that.”
The Rockets inserted Josh Smith into the starting lineup along with Ariza, Beverley, Howard and Harden for the second consecutive game. It’s just the second time Houston has used that starting lineup as Bickerstaff has decided to go big. “It really had nothing to do with matchups,” Bickerstaff said. “It had more to do with skill set. … We figured we needed a guy in that first group who can be a facilitator. One of Josh’s greatest strengths is moving the ball. He complements Dwight and James really, really well.”