Boozer leads Jazz over Rockets
Salt Lake City, UT (Sports Network) – Carlos Boozer poured in 22 points and
pulled down 12 rebounds, to lead the Utah Jazz to a 81-67 victory over the
Houston Rockets in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series at
Deron Williams added 11 points, seven rebounds and eight assists for the Jazz,
who now trail the best-of-seven series two games to one.
Matt Harpring came off the bench to score 13 points and grab seven boards for
Utah, which won its first playoff game since April 26, 2003 and will look to
even the series on Saturday in Game 4.
“We needed to win this game,” said Utah head coach Jerry Sloan. “If you don’t
win this one, you make things really difficult for yourselves. I thought we
played much better defensively tonight. You’re not going to stop those guys
over there, but we tried harder in this game than we have and that was the
Yao Ming netted 26 points and had 14 rebounds for the Rockets, who won the
first two games of the series at home.
Tracy McGrady contributed 24 points on 9-of-23 shooting from the field in the
loss for Houston, which scored just 25 points in the second half. Shane
Battier had 11 points and five rebounds in the loss while Rafer Alston had
six, accounting for the rest of Houston’s points.
“I thought they were the mentally stronger team, especially in the fourth
quarter,” said Houston head coach Jeff Van Gundy. “They came at us hard and
they chased down loose balls harder than we did. I give those guys over there
a lot of credit.”
Holding a six-point advantage at halftime, the Jazz outscored the Rockets
13-10 in the third quarter to take a 61-52 lead into the final frame.
Six straight points by Houston made it 64-58 with about six minutes remaining.
McGrady drained a baseline jumper and Yao followed with a turnaround bank shot
and two free throws to make it six-point game.
Utah then put the game away and rattled off a 13-4 run to make it 79-62.
Boozer donated six points during the game-clinching surge while Harpring had
Leading by six points at the end of the opening quarter, the Jazz went into
halftime with a 48-42 lead after both team’s scored 25 points in the second
Boozer paced Utah with 10 points and five rebounds in the first half as the
Jazz shot 47.7 percent from the field.
McGrady had 16 points while Yao donated 15 and seven boards for the Rockets,
who had nine turnovers at halftime.
Coming into the game, the Jazz had lost seven of their last eight Game 3s
while Houston had won six of its last seven Game 3s in the postseason…Gordan
Giricek had 10 points off the bench for Utah…Houston finished with 19
turnovers…The Jazz have not advanced past the first round of the playoffs
since 2000. The last time Utah was victorious in a playoff series was in 2000,
when it eliminated Seattle, 3-2, in the first round.