HOUSTON – Kyle Lowry was looking forward to a good night's sleep after the best game of his career and a draining week for the Houston Rockets.
Lowry had 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for Houston's first triple-double of the season, and the first of his career, and the Rockets moved past Utah in the Western Conference standings with a 110-108 victory over the Jazz on Sunday night.
Lowry set a career high in rebounds, and helped the Rockets inch closer to playoff contention in the Western Conference. Houston is now ninth in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of the Jazz and Phoenix and 1½ games behind Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
"The intensity of that game was very competitive," Lowry said. "No one wanted to give in."
Houston has won four home games in the last seven days, and Rockets coach Rick Adelman is giving his team an off day on Monday.
"I can't wait," Lowry said. "I might sleep til 9:30 a.m. Every game has been tough for us — playing, practicing, playing, practicing. It gets to you after a little while, but it's been a good stretch for us."
Kevin Martin went 18 for 18 from the free throw line and scored 34 points, and rookie Patrick Patterson had 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for the Rockets.
Chase Budinger left in the second quarter with a sprained left ankle, and was wearing a walking boot after the game. Adelman said that could mean more playing time for Courtney Lee.
Paul Millsap, back after missing five games with left knee tendinitis, scored 35 points, and Al Jefferson had 17 points and 19 rebounds for Utah.
The Jazz have dropped seven of their last nine road games, but have another chance to gain ground in the West standings on Monday, when they face Memphis.
Millsap and Jefferson scored seven points apiece in the third quarter to help the Jazz rally from an early 12-point deficit to trail only 77-75.
Houston held the Jazz without a field goal for more than seven minutes in the fourth quarter, but Millsap's follow of his own miss with 4:43 left cut the Rockets' lead to 89-85.
"We made a lot of mistakes, and still had a chance to win," Jefferson said. "A lot of little mistakes cost us in the end."
The Rockets clung to the lead, and Lowry's spinning layup with 2:09 left made it 97-90. He was fouled on the play and converted the three-point play.
Lowry went 7 for 8 from the free throw line and 9 for 14 from the field, including three 3-pointers. The 6-foot point guard has scored in double figures in 12 straight games, and delivered at least eight assists in 21 this season.
"Kyle has been the guy that we've leaned on," Adelman said. "He's been our playmaker. He's just been terrific."
The Jazz pulled within three in the final minute, but Martin went 4 for 4 from the free throw line in the last 25 seconds to preserve Houston's lead.
Devin Harris swished a straightaway 3-pointer with 9 seconds to go. Lowry then tacked on two more free throws with 7 seconds left to finally put it out of reach.
"It was a good, intense game," said Andrei Kirilenko, who scored 10 for Utah. "Houston was just more successful at the end."
The Rockets finished the first quarter with a 15-4 spurt to build a 30-19 lead.
Lowry started the run with a jumper from the wing and a 3-pointer from the corner. He stole the ball from Harris and found Martin in the corner for another 3-pointer.
Goran Dragic and Martin sank back-to-back 3-pointers late in the second quarter, and Houston led 46-34. The Rockets hit seven of their first 12 3-point attempts.
Kirilenko swished a 3-pointer and Millsap scored inside to help Utah close the gap just before halftime. Lowry sank his third 3 of the half in the last minute, and Houston led 55-47 at the break.
Houston led 63-55 in the third quarter, when Harris started a 10-2 Utah spurt with a 3-pointer. Millsap's three-point play tied it at 65-all.
Notes: Utah is 5-10 since Tyrone Corbin replaced Jerry Sloan as coach. ... Jefferson has 30 doubles-doubles this season. ... Martin finished a three-point play in the first quarter with his NBA-leading 500th free throw of the season. ... Luis Scola, back after missing five games with a sore left knee, had four points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes. ... Adelman passed Red Auerbach and into ninth place in regular-season coaching victories (939).