Rockets topple Jazz in Game 1
Houston, TX (Sports Network) – Yao Ming poured in 28 points and grabbed 13
rebounds to lead the Houston Rockets past the Utah Jazz, 84-75, in the opener
of the Western Conference quarterfinals at Toyota Center.
Tracy McGrady, who was held without a field goal in the first half, added 23
points and dished out seven assists for the Rockets, who have not won a
playoff series since 1997.
“I don’t get worried or concern myself about things like that,” said McGrady
about never winning a playoff series. “We just have to get the job done out
there who ever we play. I put alot of pressure on myself and we are only going
to go as far as I can take our team.”
Rafer Alston had nine points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in the victory for
Deron Williams netted 15 points, had nine boards and doled out nine assists
for the Jazz, who will look to even the best-of-seven series on Monday.
Derek Fisher contributed 15 points in the loss while Matt Harpring had 14
points and eight boards off the bench.
“We knew this was going to be a dogfight and a defensive battle,” said
Williams. “They made a nice run and we seemed to hang our heads a little bit.”
Trailing nine points after two quarters, the Rockets outscored the Jazz 26-11
in the third period to take a 59-53 lead into the final frame.
In the third quarter, McGrady awoke from his slow start and erupted for 16
points to lead the attack for Houston, which ended the period on a 10-0 surge.
The Rockets continued to lead in the fourth and back-to-back treys from Alston
and Luther Head made it 71-63 with about 6 1/2 minutes to play.
Houston’s lead extended to 13 points after McGrady drained a three and then
hit two shots from the charity stripe to make it 78-65 with four minutes left.
Utah went on an 8-0 run to make it 80-74 late in the contest, but that was as
close as they would get as Houston held on for the victory.
The Rockets led 20-19 after the opening quarter as Juwan Howard drained a long
jump shot from the top of the key as time expired.
Utah controlled the second stanza and outscored Houston 23-13 to take a 42-33
advantage into halftime. Williams and Fisher paced the Jazz with eight points
each. Williams also had eight boards and six assists.
Yao had 15 points and nine boards at the break to lead the Rockets while
McGrady was held to just one point as he went 0-for-6 from the field. Houston
shot a dismal 29 percent from the floor in the first half and had eight
Yao finished 8-of-18 from the field and 12-of-14 from the free throw
line…The Rockets were 21-of-26 from the charity stripe…Andrei Kirilenko
was limited to just two points in the loss while Mehmet Okur had just
six…Houston defeated Utah in the first round of the postseason in 1995 and
in the 1994 West finals. The Jazz knocked out the Rockets in the opening round
of 1985 and 1998 and in the 1997 conference finals.