for this game

Boozer leads Jazz to season-opening win over Rockets

Nov 2, 2006 - 4:54 AM SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Carlos Boozer was the perfect combination of small forward and power forward all in one.

Boozer consistently buried the mid-range jumper and cleaned the glass as the Utah Jazz posted a 107-97 victory over the Houston Rockets in the season opener for both teams.

Boozer scored 24 points and grabbed 19 rebounds - two shy of his career high - and Deron Williams added 18 and 10 assists for the Jazz, who have won six of the last seven meetings here with the Rockets.

"I'm going to go after every one (rebound)," Boozer said. "I may not get every one, but I'm gonna try to."

"Carlos was unbelievable tonight," said Jazz guard Derek Fisher, who had 13 points. "Every rebound that came off the glass, he either got his hands on or he ended up getting it. When you have that type of performance from your big guy ... it feels good."

After playing in just the final 33 games last season due to a left hamstring injury, Boozer started strong, netting 13 points in the first quarter to help Utah build a 35-26 cushion.

"He's (Boozer) a beast," Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko said. "He's got lots of things going [for him], but he always gets 20-10 every game. Actually, tonight it was like 20-20. I never had any doubts about Carlos Boozer. I always knew he can score and he can play."

The Jazz extended their lead to 60-48 at halftime and remained comfortably in front until the closing minutes.

Mehmet Okur scored 17 points and C.J. Miles added 12 - all in the first half - for the Jazz, who held a 47-36 advantage in rebounding.

"I went out there and just tried to play, play hard on defense, just bend my knees and knock down the open shots I got," Miles said. "I got some good looks, and they continued to look for me when I was open."

Tracy McGrady, who was challenged by defensive stalwart Kirilenko, scored 25 points and handed out nine assists and Yao Ming added 22 and nine boards for Houston, which seemed a step slow throughout and allowed Utah to shoot 53 percent (39-of-74).

"It was a very frustrating first game for us," Yao said. "We dug a big hole at the beginning of the game, we were down 12 at halftime, we just let them overpower us. I don't know how many rebounds they got, but that's where they hurt us. ... They got everything they wanted."

After trailing by double digits for much of the contest, the Rockets closed to 99-94 on a 3-pointer by Rafer Alston with 3:31 left.

But a deep jumper from the left wing by Okur with 2 1/2 minutes remaining sparked an 8-0 spurt, pushing the margin to 107-94.

"That's how the NBA is," McGrady said. "You're gonna fight back and claw back. But I think we dug ourselves too deep of a hole to try to come back and win that ballgame. Granted, we made a lot of careless mistakes down at the end. And toward the end, those guys were knocking down shots, hitting threes. They did a great job of getting the ball to the right guys."

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