The banged-up Utah Jazz will try to keep the pressure on a host of teams in the Western Conference on Friday when they resume their playoff push in the Big Easy against the New Orleans Hornets.
Gordon Hayward netted a season-high 29 points as the Jazz got a much-needed 103-91 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
Paul Millsap filled the stat sheet with 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals and Derrick Favors had a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards off the bench for the Jazz, who have won two in a row and three of four.
"I told the guys, 'You should enjoy this one,' because they really laid it out on the line," Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin said.
With Houston's loss and Denver's win later Wednesday, there was a three-way tie for sixth place in the Western Conference with Utah sitting 1 1/2 games behind the group, which also included Dallas, for the final playoff spots in the West. The Mavs, however, broke the logjam a little bit with a 112-103 win at Golden State on Thursday.
The Jazz have kept the pressure on despite being without forwards Raja Bell and Josh Howard, who are both dealing with knee injuries, and losing two more players this week, guard Earl Watson (torn right meniscus) and forward C.J. Miles (strained left calf).
Meanwhile, Millsap has been listed as day-to-day with a sprained right wrist and Jeremy Evans (sprained right ankle) is doubtful for tonight's game as well as the team's contest in Memphis on Saturday.
The Hornets are also coming off a win on Wednesday when Jason Smith had 22 points, Marco Belinelli scored 21 and New Orleans posted a 105-96 victory over Sacramento in a matchup between the two worst teams in the Western Conference.
Greivis Vasquez totaled 15 points and five assists for the Hornets, who have won three of their last five games but remain in the West cellar with a 16-42 mark.
"At the start of the game, [the Kings] scored a lot of points on offense. We just got everybody together and told them to get back on defense," Belinelli said.
The Hornets are also shorthanded. Injury plagued guard Eric Gordon has been listed as doubtful for tonight with a balky back while Jarrett Jack was ruled out for the remainder of the season earlier this week with a stress fracture in his right foot.
New Orleans snapped a two-game skid to the Jazz with an 86-80 win in the Bayou back on Feb. 13.