Saturday at Toyota Center, the Utah Jazz played without two starters while a third was banged up, and the Rockets took advantage with a 111-102 win.
Point guard George Hill missed the game with a sprained right thumb, while forward Derrick Favors sat out with a left knee bone contusion. Gordon Hayward, nursing a bum finger, missed seven of his first eight shots, finishing with 9 points.
James Harden paced Houston with 31-points and 10 assists. He scored 15 points in the first quarter that featured four ties and five lead changes, but when it ended, the Rockets led by six, and led the rest of the game, improving their record to 8-5 on the season.
Nene played the final 3:24 of the first and made his only shot from the field, but with Harden on the bench to start the second quarter, he came alive giving the Rockets another 10 points, helping them stretch their lead to as many as 16. Utah made it an 11 point game at halftime and pulled to within six five minutes into the third, but Houston got the game back to double-digits by the time the quarter ended and sailed through the fourth.
Nene finished with 16 points, while Eric Gordon gave the Rockets 20 points off the bench.
Clint Capela scored a career-high 20.
Patrick Beverly, playing in his second game scored five points in 24 minutes of action.
Houston finished with just five turnovers, none committed by Harden who finished with his sixth turnoverless game as a Rocket, and his first since December 2, 2015
The loss dropped Utah to 7-7 on the season. Rodney Hood led the Jazz in scoring with 25 points. He knocked down 5-of-8 from behind the 3-point line. Trey Lyles added 21, 12 came in the third quarter.