HOUSTON (AP) — Houston coach Kevin McHale worried that his team might come out flat Monday night against the struggling Utah Jazz after dropping a close game to the Heat in Miami a day before.
His fears were completely unwarranted.
Terrence Jones scored 30 points and the Rockets ended a three-game skid with their most lopsided victory of the season, a 124-86 win over the Jazz.
"There's got to be an emphasis on how we play and improving," McHale said. "It's really important that we keep improving and getting better."
Dwight Howard was out with an ankle strain, leaving the Rockets without him for the first time this season. But they still had no problem handling the Jazz, who have lost five in a row and have one of the worst records in the Western Conference.
Houston was up by 19 at halftime and 13 points by Jones in the third quarter helped push the lead to 92-69 entering the fourth.
"We just wanted to be aggressive," Jones said. "Coming off three tough ones we wanted to come out and have a lot of energy and just get back to playing ... the way we had been playing."
The big lead allowed an overworked James Harden, who had played more than 43 minutes in three of the previous four games, to rest a bit as he watched the fourth quarter from the bench. Harden finished with 15 points.
Houston used a 15-0 run starting midway through the fourth quarter with all their starters on the bench except for Jones to push the already lopsided game to a 40-point advantage. Jordan Hamilton had seven points for Houston during the run.
Derrick Favors had 15 points for the Jazz a night after scoring a career-high 28.
"This is a lesson for the young guys," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. "They have to learn to get ready every night. Tonight, we just couldn't get it going. It was like we were running in mud and couldn't get ourselves out of it."
It was unclear when Howard was injured, but the team announced the mild strain to his left ankle about 40 minutes before tipoff. He had been the only Rockets player to start every game this season before missing Monday's game. Omer Asik started in his place and finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Houston got back on track after an 0-3 road trip for its first three-game losing streak of the season. The losses came at Oklahoma City, Chicago and Miami and followed a great stretch in which the Rockets won five straight over some of the Eastern Conference's best teams.
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