SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Jazz avenged losing their home opener by running away with the finale and putting themselves in position for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Jazz beat Houston 105-96 on Monday, pulling even with the Rockets in the muddled Western Conference standings with one game to go in the regular season.
Houston was the first team to visit Utah during the regular season and also the last. The Rockets won here Nov. 1, spoiling Utah's home opener, but the Jazz ended up clinching the season series 2-1 by winning Monday. The Jazz went 37-4 at home, where they hope to be playing this weekend in the first round of the playoffs.
"It changes every day, so we'll see what happens," said Carlos Boozer, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds in his 51st double-double of the season Monday. "The competition is phenomenal in the Western Conference."
Both the Jazz and Rockets are 54-27, but Utah would hold the tiebreaker if the records are still identical after Wednesday. Utah can clinch home-court advantage for at least the opening round with just one more win. Unfortunately for the Jazz, that game is in San Antonio, where Utah has lost 17 straight regular-season games.
"It's good to be in a predicament where you hold your own destiny," said Utah's Ronnie Brewer, who scored 12 for Utah. "That's what I like. I don't like depending on other people."
The Jazz and Rockets could end up meeting in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year. Houston closes the regular season at home Wednesday against the Clippers. If the Rockets win Wednesday and the Jazz lose to the Spurs, Houston would host the first two games of a series against Utah.
The Jazz would prefer to make just one trip to Texas this week.
"Somewhere along the line, we're going to have to learn how to win on the road some way," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.
Utah could tie San Antonio with a win on Wednesday and own the tiebreaker by winning three of four against the Spurs.
The Rockets, who have lost two straight after winning five in a row, never recovered after Utah's 35-point second quarter.
Mehmet Okur added 12 points and 13 rebounds and Deron Williams finished with 17 points and nine assists for the Jazz, who won for the sixth time in seven games and finished with their best home record since winning 38 games in 1996-97.
Tracy McGrady and Luis Scola scored 22 each for Houston, which fell short with a late rally after trailing by 17 at the end of the third quarter. The Rockets made six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to make it closer, but couldn't overcome Utah's huge lead.
"We battled in the second half, but we could never get back all the way," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "They got a lot of loose balls, second rebounds and kept us away."
The Rockets never recovered after Utah's 35-point second quarter. The Jazz shut out McGrady in the period and went 13-for-21 from the floor while taking a 56-41 lead at halftime. The Jazz closed the second on a 14-3 run and held the Rockets to 6-of-18 shooting in the period. Houston went without a field goal from 6:00 until 7 seconds remained in the period.
"The second quarter really killed us," McGrady said.
Houston made a slight dent in the third when Bobby Jackson made three free throws, including one for a technical on Williams, to cut the lead to 76-52. Williams and Jackson had gotten tied up on a loose ball and Williams was called for the foul.
Williams argued he had the ball and stared down referee Phil Robinson, who after a few moments had enough and called the technical. Scola added two free throws to make it 72-60, but Brewer answered for Utah with back-to-back dunks, then two free throws when he was fouled by Jackson while taking in a steal for what would have been another dunk.
Brewer's 6-0 spurt put Utah up 78-60 and the Jazz led 84-67 at the end of the third.
- C.J. Miles got a lucky basket when he leaped for a rebound on a miss by Okur and tipped the ball in from a few feet out in the first quarter.
- Portland, Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers were the only teams besides the Rockets to win in Utah this season.
- The Rockets were outrebounded 50-38.
- Matt Harpring added 11 points and nine rebounds and Paul Millsap had nine points and three blocks.