for this game

Okur, Jazz top Rockets, hold on to fourth seed

Apr 2, 2007 - 3:50 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Carlos Boozer and the Utah Jazz know how important home-court advantage is in the tough Western Conference.

Boozer had 13 points and 10 rebounds and converted a huge bucket down the stretch as the Jazz used a decisive fourth-quarter run to retain the fourth seed in the West with an 86-83 victory over the Houston Rockets.

Mehmet Okur scored 20 points for Utah (48-25), which is 1 1/2 games ahead of Houston (47-27) for the fourth spot in the Western Conference and home-court advantage if the teams face off in a first-round series.

"I'm very concerned with what we do every game," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "I am not concerned about the playoffs at this time. We'll play whoever is there, and hopefully, we will do our best.

"There's still a lot of basketball left. We'll find out what kind of team we are after a win like this."

The squads look to be locked into the matchup since the Rockets are 7 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Los Angeles Lakers (38-34) and the Jazz four games behind No. 3 San Antonio (52-21).

The Lakers play later Sunday night.

"(The Rockets) don't let you get a lot of points," Utah swingman Matt Harpring said. "They make you run your offense. I think it will be an exciting battle (in playoffs). This game in no way means we'll win the series."

Trailing by seven points with 4:44 left in the fourth quarter, Utah went on a decisive 15-4 run, capped by Boozer's three-point play with 1:35 remaining to make it 85-81. But it was Harpring's three-point play on the prior play that gave the Jazz the lead.

"(Utah point guard) Deron (Williams) made a good pass when I got behind their guy," Harpring said. "It's interesting because I kept cutting all game, and I wasn't able to get open until that last time. They might deny that play eight times in a row, but we still kept looking for it, and it paid off big."

After two free throws by Rockets star Tracy McGrady and one by Okur, Houston had a chance to tie on the game's final possession.

But the Rockets' superstar duo had a miscommunication on the game's final possession, as Yao's pass caused McGrady to catch the ball out of position deep on the right wing and fire an airball as time expired.

"We didn't set picks (on the final play)," McGrady said. "They ran through our picks. There was miscommunication on a couple of guys' part. They didn't know where to go, and they didn't set screens. I couldn't get open, and nobody could get open."

With the win, the Jazz snapped a six-game road losing streak.

"We needed to stop the bleeding after six straight on the road," Sloan said. "We hadn't finished in any of those games. Tonight, we finished."

Yao had 35 points and 16 rebounds for Houston, which shot just 39 percent (39-of-80).

"In the last four minutes, we let them score too easy off of second shots and off of cuts," Yao said. "They scored on our mistakes, and we can not allow that to happen. We can not let them shoot over our head, and we can not let them score on our defensive mistakes."

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