February 29, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Houston Rockets power forward Luis Scola (4) and Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors (15) battle for position during the second half at Energy Solutions Arena. The Jazz defeated the Rockets 104-83. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
The Jazz picked up a huge victory over the Rockets to stay alive and muck up the West playoff race. There's plenty more action in a full night for the NBA.
The Utah Jazz won themselves what amounts to a stay of playoff execution on Wednesday, beating the Houston Rockets, 103-91, at the Toyota Center. A loss would have been devastating to Utah's playoff hopes, as Houston had been growing its lead, But behind Gordon Hayward and Paul Millsap, Utah pulled out the victory.
Hayward scored 29 points on 9-14 shooting and added six assists for good measure. Millsap was steady as ever, with 21 points and seven rebounds. Derrick Favors was important off the bench, with 10 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes.
Goran Dragic put up 19 points, with 13 of those coming from the line as the Slovenian just couldn't get much going from the floor (3-13). Courtney Lee (4-11) and Kyle Lowry (3-8) were similarly inefficient; in large part thanks to the guards, Houston shot just 36 percent from the floor.
Houston maintains a 1.5-game lead on Utah for the No. 8 seed, but that's at least feasible (if not practical) for the Jazz to bridge. The playoff chase that wasn't supposed to be rolls on.
In other action ...
Grizzlies 104, Suns 93: Memphis kept pace with the Clippers with a win over Phoenix. The Suns failed to make up ground on Houston; Phoenix is now two full games out of the No. 8 seed, with Utah having cut in front of them in line. Rudy Gay was the star of the show, scoring 32 points on 13-20 shooting.
Sixers 93, Raptors 75: Philadelphia had no problem conjuring up enough offense to put away Toronto, a task made more easy because the Sixers' defense was so good. The Raptors shot just 36 percent from the floor. Toronto had two 20-point quarters ... and that was as high as the output got.
Nuggets 113, Wolves 107: Denver probably didn't need to knock out Kevin Love to pick up this win. Nonetheless, it was an important win for Denver, one that moved them into a three-way tie for the final three playoff spots in the West. In Love's absence, Anthony Randolph and Derrick Williams combined for 55 points. I am as terrified as you are.
Blazers 118, Warriors 110: Defense remains optional for both sinking clubs as the teams shot a combined 50 percent. Jamal Crawford scored 31 points, which ensures that Golden State will try to sign him in July.
Hornets 105, Kings 96: There's a distinct possibility that the Kings, who look completely awful right now, will lose their final seven games (three against the Thunder, plus games against the Spurs and Lakers) to finish the season on a coach-killing 13-game losing streak. The only salvation: a random visit to Charlotte scheduled for the season's final weekend.
For all of Wednesday's NBA box scores, check out SI.com's NBA scoreboard.