Rockets seek better effort against improving Jazz

( - The Houston Rockets will make a quick turnaround when they resume a four-game western road swing Thursday against the Utah Jazz.

Houston won the opener of the jaunt on Saturday in Denver and got back to work after a lengthy break with Wednesday's 105-100 loss at Portland, which is now percentage points ahead of the Rockets for the third spot in the West.

Corey Brewer led the visitors with 23 points off the bench and James Harden scored 18 points with six assists. A Brewer 3-pointer made it 101-98 with 49 seconds remaining and he later pulled Houston within one. Arron Afflalo sank two free throws to keep Portland up by three with 12.7 seconds left.

Brewer front-rimmed a potential tying 3-pointer and Damian Lillard sealed the win from the line.

"It felt good when it left my hand, I was just short," Brewer said. "I lost a lot of energy trying to come back like that."

Terrence Jones posted 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Rockets, who had won seven of their previous nine games and shot 41.8 percent from the floor. The Blazers muscled their way to a 60-40 margin in rebounds, but allowed the Rockets to stay in contention with 20 turnovers, leading to 25 Houston points.

The Rockets are 19-12 on the road and will close the trip Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers. They have lost four of the last five road games.

Utah will try to keep Houston's road woes intact and looks to stay unbeaten on a five-game homestand, which commenced with Tuesday's 87-82 victory over the New York Knicks at EnergySolutions Arena.

Derrick Favors had 29 points and 12 rebounds, Rodney Hood netted 17 points and Rudy Gobert chipped in 10 points and 14 boards for the Jazz, who have won three straight, six of seven and 10 of their last 13 games.

Jazz forward and leading scorer Gordon Hayward (19.5 ppg) missed his first game of the season due to a lower back strain. He is questionable Thursday.

"He's been playing through some tightness for a while," Utah coach Quin Snyder said

Utah still has Detroit, Charlotte and Washington to play in Salt Lake City and is 14-16 at home this season.

Favors is averaging 18.8 ppg since the All-Star break. The Jazz are 8-2 since the break and have held opponents to 83.4 ppg in that time. They are second in the NBA in opponents' scoring at 95.8 ppg.

The Jazz are 0-2 against the Rockets this season and the two teams will meet again April 15 in Space City. The Rockets have won three in a row and seven of the last eight games in this series.