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McGrady, Rockets outduel Boozer, Jazz

Apr 24, 2007 - 6:17 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- While Carlos Boozer bounced back from a poor performance, Tracy McGrady continued to silence the doubters.

McGrady collected 31 points and 10 rebounds and Yao Ming added 27 and nine as the Rockets held off Boozer and the Jazz with a 98-90 victory in Game Two of their first-round series.

Chuck Hayes added 12 points and 12 rebounds for Houston, which took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series by sweeping their two home games. Game Three will be in Utah on Thursday.

"You have to be feeling good being up 2-0," Rockets guard Rafer Alston said. "But you don't feel good because we haven't shot well. You're going into a whole different atmosphere (in Utah) and they're a great home team."

Boozer scored just 11 points on 4-of-17 shooting in his first career postseason contest in Game One on Saturday. But he got the hang of the playoffs in his second game, scoring 41 points on 17-of-30 shooting.

"I definitely had the playoff jitters (on Saturday)," Boozer said. "Maybe, I was too excited. Today I tried to treat it like a regular-season game. We've got to have guys stay aggressive, stay confident when they are shooting the ball."

"(Boozer) hasn't played in the playoffs, and hopefully our team will be better as we go along," Yao said.

Boozer went right at Yao.

"My shots just kept going in," Boozer said. "I took it upon myself to be more aggressive. I felt like I let my team down in Game One. I wanted to give my team a lift. Yao's a big guy, eight-foot tall and has a big impact on the game, offensively and defensively. I tried to get him a little winded."

However, McGrady, who has been maligned for his postseason shortcomings, continued to march toward his first playoff series win.

"Being in the playoffs in the past, I was just happy to get there," McGrady said. "I didn't think we had the talent (in Orlando) to advance. Right now, I feel extremely good about our chances. I've been up 3-1, 2-0, not having home-court advantage."

The superstar swingman managed just one point in the first half in the series opener but netted 22, including 16 in the third quarter, in the second half of that contest.

It carried over to Monday's game for the former scoring champion, who shot 9-of-29 from the field, hit the glass hard and dished out five assists. But despite a poor shooting night, McGrady connected on a crucial jumper down the stretch.

After leading for most of the fourth quarter, two straight buckets by Boozer cut the Jazz deficit to 90-84 with 1:18 left. On the ensuing possession, McGrady halted Utah's momentum, rising over Jazz guard Gordan Giricek to bury a tough fadeaway, making it 92-84 with 57 seconds left.

"They did a great job of getting up in us (defensively), putting pressure on us," McGrady said. "I don't think we were ready for that. They played extremely hard for 48 minutes.

"If the shots are not falling, I try to get to the free-throw line. We've got to keep taking those same shots. I'm a rhythm shooter. If I hit one or two, from that point on I don't think I'm going to miss."

Yao shot 9-of-24 from the field and 9-of-9 from the free-throw line, and Hayes was 5-of-5 from the floor and grabbed seven offensive rebounds for the Rockets, who shot just 36 percent (30-of-83) but nailed 34-of-38 foul shots.

"In the playoffs, you cannot have any mistakes," Yao said. "One possession can change the whole series. We can't give up any runs in the fourth quarter. We shared the ball well (tonight). I'm surprised we got 17 second shots. That's a big key why we stayed in the game."

Deron Williams collected 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Jazz, who shot 45 percent (38-of-84), including 1-of-9 from the arc.

"I thought our guys played their hearts out," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We are going to have to be better to beat this team. We know that. When there is such a disparity in free throws, it is very difficult. I forget what the free throws were, but that is one of the things that hurt us.

"We're trying to stay in the ballgame, and they're going to free-throw line a great deal. One of the things they did very well that hurt us was their offensive rebounding."

    UTAH 90

    Apr 24 12:22 AM
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    RUWTbot Added 32 roots

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