SALT LAKE CITY, April 9 (Ticker) -- The Houston Rockets got off to a bad start, and it only got worse from there.

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The Utah Jazz scored the game's first 11 points and steadily pulled away, dealing the Rockets' playoff hopes a major blow with a 94-73 victory.

Matt Harpring scored 23 points for the playoff-bound Jazz, who snapped a three-game losing streak and rebounded from Tuesday's 128-102 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

"We needed this win in a bad way," Harpring said. "We had lost three in a row, so we needed to come in here and get a big win."

But not as badly as Houston (40-39), which got more bad news when Phoenix defeated Dallas on Wednesday. That dropped the Rockets 2 1/2 games behind the Suns -- and to the brink of elimination -- in the battle for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

"We haven't given up yet," Houston rookie center Yao Ming said through an interpreter. Yao scored only six points in 23 minutes.

But the Rockets have not been playing like a team battling for its playoff lives. In Tuesday's 81-66 setback to Portland, Houston shot a franchise-low 29.5 percent from the field. The Rockets were not much better in this one, shooting only 31.5 percent (28-of-89).

"I really can't explain it," Rockets acting coach Larry Smith said. "We get good looks at the basket. We get open shots, and we just can't put it in the basket."

James Posey and Maurice Taylor led the Rockets with just 10 points apiece. Cuttino Mobley scored just nine points and Steve Francis only six.

"I thought we played hard," Smith said. "But if you don't score, thinks look really, really bad out there."

Wednesday's effort was quite a turnaround for the Jazz, who allowed the high-scoring Warriors to shoot 52.5 percent just 24 hours earlier.

"I thought we did an excellent job defensively, especially on the starting five," Harpring said. "We were moving more. We seemed to have more energy tonight. The game came a lot easier tonight than the last three games."

"I thought we were alive right from the start," Utah coach Jerry Sloan added. "We have got to learn how to stay focused on our execution and understand what we are supposed to do on both ends of the floor."

Utah build a 24-17 first-quarter lead, then allowed just 11 points in the second period to extend its advantage to 42-28 at intermission.

"We need rest, there's no question about it," Smith said. "We're banged up. But I can't use it as an excuse. We've still got to play. We've gotta suck it up and get through it."

The Rockets had only 46 points after three quarters before scoring 27 in the final period, when the contest was out of reach. Utah led by as many as 25 in the final minutes.

"We needed to get everyone out there and contribute," said Utah forward Scott Padgett, who chipped in 13 points off the bench. "It was a good way to get over last night."

Andrei Kirilenko contributed 15 points and Karl Malone added 10 for the Jazz, who shot 46 percent (35-of-76). Greg Ostertag grabbed 12 rebounds.