Boozer leads Jazz to Game 7 victory over Rockets
Houston, TX (Sports Network) – Carlos Boozer poured in 35 points and ripped
down 14 rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko hit two huge free throws with just 1.7
seconds remaining as the Utah Jazz held off the Houston Rockets in Game 7,
103-99, to advance to the Western Conference semifinals.
Utah moves on to face the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors, who are coming
off an upset of the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks. That series begins on Monday.
Deron Williams scored 20 points dished out 14 assists and Mehmet Okur had 16
points and 11 boards for the Jazz, who advanced past the first round for the
first time since 2000.
Tracy McGrady scored 29 points and had 13 assists for the Rockets, but his
playoff woes continued as he fell to 0-6 in first round playoff series in his
“Right now, it’s a lot of hurt,” said McGrady. “For us to go out and compete
like we did, in some sense it feels good that we competed the way we did and
pushed seven games, but on the other hand, it was just disappointing.”
Yao Ming also scored 29 points but had just six rebounds for Houston, which
has not won a playoff series since 1997.
“I think I didn’t do a good job of rebounding wherever — long rebounds, short
rebounds. That’s why we lost,” said Yao. “I didn’t do my job.”
Holding on to a one-point lead, Okur nailed a three-pointer to give Utah a
99-95 lead with just 1:16 remaining. Yao and Boozer traded free throws in the
final minute and McGrady’s layup brought the Rockets within 101-99 with 9.8
Houston then inexplicably let almost eight seconds run off the clock before
fouling Kirilenko with just under two seconds remaining. Kirilenko stepped to
the line and hit both of his free throws to ice the game and send Utah to the
Trailing 75-67 after three quarters, the Rockets started the fourth quarter on
a 7-0 run and pulled within 75-74 on McGrady’s layup. Rafer Alston’s banked
three- pointer then tied the game at 80-80 and Yao followed with four straight
free throws to give Houston its first lead since the start of the game.
A Boozer layup followed by a Kirilenko trey tied the game at 90-90 and
Boozer’s three-point play put the Jazz back in front with just over four
minutes to play. Yao answered with a three-point play of his own, but Okur
came back with a trey to make it 94-91 Utah with 3:23 remaining.
Yao’s dunk brought Houston back within a point before Williams’ driving layup
with 2 1/2 minutes to play made it 96-93. McGrady then setup up Chuck Hayes
with a layup that made it 96-95 with 1:46 to play before another Okur three
gave the Jazz a four-point advantage.
“To win Game 7 on the road in a hostile environment when they came back and
grabbed the lead from us (was big),” said Boozer. “We grew up a lot in this
series and it’s going to help us in the next series.”
A Gordan Giricek three with just over four seconds left in the first quarter
gave the Jazz a 29-22 lead and the momentum carried over into the second
Utah opened the quarter with an 11-2 run, capped by a Williams’ trey, to
quickly go up 40-24. A 13-2 Rockets’ spurt, featuring two three-pointers by
Shane Battier, brought Houston within four, 45-41, with just under two minutes
left in the quarter.
The Jazz, though, closed the half out on an 8-2 run and took a 53-43 lead into
the locker room. Utah held the Rockets at arm’s length in the third quarter
and carried a 75-67 lead into the final quarter.
The Rockets have lost five straight games when they have had the chance to
eliminate their opponent…Utah improved to 2-2 in Game 7s while Houston fell
to 5-3…Utah’s only previous Game 7 win came against the Denver Nuggets on
May 21, 1994.