SALT LAKE CITY -- It felt like the Jazz were on the verge of another disaster before Earl Watson and his buddies stepped in and started playing catch-us-if-you-can.
Down by as many as 12 points to the visiting New Orleans Hornets in the first quarter of Monday's game, the Jazz bounced back with a 32-18 run before halftime. Although the Hornets kept making pests of themselves, that second-quarter rally helped propel Utah to a 104-99 victory at EnergySolutions Arena.
Coming on the heels of Monday's 45-blowout to the Rockets, the Jazz were anxious to get back on the court and release some of the pressure they'd been feeling.
Watson, who seethed after the Houston loss, turned out to be a terrific sparkplug for the Jazz (25-21), who will finish the month of January with a record of 10-4 (Monday's loss still only counted as one).
"I'm just now getting my legs back, which is new for me because I've never been injured," said Watson, who underwent knee surgery last year. "Now I'm able to push the ball and everyone's able to run with me. Part of that's my fault (but) I'm finding my rhythm. It's going to happen in layers and I think I'm going to get better and better."
The Jazz got 25 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots from Paul Millsap and center Al Jefferson added 22 points, five boards and two assists. Derrick Favors came off the bench to score 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
The Hornets, who earlier in the month won six out of seven, dropped their second in a row.
Point guard Greivis Vasquez scored 17 points and added 13 assists for New Orleans (15-31).
Forward Ryan Anderson came off the bench to score 16 and center Robin Lopez had 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
"It felt good to get a win after the performance the other night," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "I thought the guys really -- with all the pressure of the performance we made (on Monday) -- came in and just continued to fight. They made a run, we made a run. We'd make a mistake, we'd make up for it and get a good stop. I thought it showed a lot of growth in our game."
Although the game was close throughout, one major key for the Jazz was the way their bench played in the second quarter. Corbin singled out Watson as an important contributor.
"I thought Earl did a good job of coming in and giving us minutes, pushing the ball down the floor," he said. "The guys on the wings did a good job of running the floor early and were able to get a rhythm going because of that."
Watson finished the game with just one point on 0-for-2 shooting. With it, however, came six rebounds and five assists, four of which came during the second quarter.
Playing without starting point guard Mo Williams (thumb surgery) and top reserve Gordon Hayward (sprained right shoulder) the Jazz needed to find a lift off the bench. They found it in the team of Watson and Favors, who joined forces on a dazzling alley-oop dunk with 9:10 left before halftime.
Because Utah's defense helped limit the Hornets to just 28 percent shooting in the second quarter, Watson and his teammates were able to play at a quicker pace, running the ball up the floor for fastbreaks.
Favors scored nine of his 15 points in the quarter.
"I think it puts more pressure on the defense, plus, with a young unit -- the second unit -- it's fun," Watson said. "You want to get out, you want to play, you want to get drunks, you want to get layups and easy baskets. That builds confidence within a young group and it makes the game easier."
After getting outscored 29-19 in the first quarter, the Jazz bounced back with a big second quarter advantage (32-18). That proved to be the difference in the game as the Jazz barely won the second half, 53-52.
They now look ahead to Friday, when they play host to former Weber State star Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.