Houston needed about 15 minutes of good basketball to beat the struggling Utah Jazz on Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena, 104-93.
The Rockets trailed by 19 points late in the second half before an 18-2 run in the third quarter got them back in the game.
Then, In the final seven minutes, Houston overcame an 85-83 deficit and pulled away for its third straight victory of the young season.
Chandler Parsons led the Rockets with 24 points. James Harden finished with 23 and Jeremy Lin added 20. Dwight Howard contributed 15 points and nine rebounds. He was 7 for 10 from the free-throw line.
“We got down big in the first half, but we didn’t give up and came together as a team at halftime,” said Parsons. “I knew this was a game we should win and we played much better in the second half. We didn’t give up as many offensive rebounds. We took better care of the ball.”
Said coach Kevin McHale: “We were a step slow in the first half. We struggled — that’s the bottom line. … [But] we got in at halftime, got a little more organized and talked a little about effort — how we had to play.”
After the Jazz scored 56 points in the first half, they managed only 37 in the second half. As a team, Utah handed out one assist in the third and fourth quarters.
“Our pick-and-roll coverage was not very good,” in the first half, Parsons said. “We let [Alec] Burks and [Gordon] Hayward come off and pretty much do whatever they wanted. We needed to be more aggressive.”
Said McHale: “… A lot of good stuff happened for us. They outworked us early. We just weren’t reliable. We weren’t quick on our feet. We were kind of reacting instead of being proactive. In the second half, we changed that.”
For Parsons, the win over Utah was a breakout game.
In the Rockets’ first two victories of the season, he averaged 9.5 points on 7-for-19 shooting, including 0-for-8 on 3-pointers.
Against the Jazz, he scored 20 points in the first half. He finished 8 for 14 from the field, including 2 for 4 on 3-point attempts.
“… I could go 0 for 50,” Parsons said. “I’m still going to shoot the ball the same way — shoot the ball with the same amount of confidence.”