Jazz, Rockets battle in decisive Game 7
(Sports Network) – The Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz play for the right to
advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals, as they battle in the decisive
Game 7 of their first-round series tonight at the Toyota Center.
The winner of tonight’s contest will play the eighth-seeded Golden State
Warriors, who upset the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the opening round, in
the West semis.
In Game 6, Carlos Boozer scored 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds as the
fourth-seeded Jazz beat No. 5 Houston, 94-82, on Thursday at EnergySolutions
Mehmet Okur tallied 19 points and nine boards in the win for Utah, while
Andrei Kirilenko ended with 14 points and five blocked shots for the Jazz, who
have recorded all three of their wins at home in this series. Deron Williams
collected 15 points and eight assists in the victory.
Tracy McGrady ended with 26 points and 10 assists, but struggled by shooting
1-for-8 from the field in the second half for the Rockets. Yao Ming
contributed 25 points, but had eight of Houston’s 19 turnovers. Rafer Alston
scored 13 in defeat.
The Rockets have lost four straight games when they have the chance to
eliminate their opponent from the postseason. Houston is 5-2 all-time in Game
Houston has not won a playoff series since 1997. The Rockets last postseason
series victory was when they defeated Seattle, 4-3, in the 1997 West semis.
The Jazz have not advanced past the first round 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.
Utah is 1-2 in Games 7s. The Jazz picked up their only Game 7 victory when
they defeated the Denver Nuggets, 91-81, on May 21, 1994 at home in the
Western Conference semifinals.
The Jazz captured the Northwest Division during the regular season, while
Houston finished in third place in the Southwest Division. The Rockets own
home-court advantage in the series since they had a better regular-season
record than Utah.
Utah ended a three-year playoff drought by qualifying for this year’s
postseason. The Jazz last appeared in the playoffs in 2003, when they were
eliminated in five games by the Sacramento Kings in the opening round.
There is plenty of playoff history between the Jazz and Rockets. This is the
sixth time that the teams are meeting in the postseason.
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.