Yao, Rockets push Jazz to the brink with Game Five victoryMay 1, 2007 - 5:52 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- A return home served Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets well.
Yao scored six of Houston's final eight points and the Rockets regained control of their Western Conference first-round series against the Utah Jazz with a 96-92 victory in Game Five.
The Rockets had be ecstatic to be back home, having suffered a pair of double-digit road losses after taking a commanding 2-0 lead.
Utah tied the series with a pair of dominant home wins, including holding Houston to a franchise playoff-low 67 points in Game Three on Thursday. The Jazz had a chance to steal on Monday but Yao came up big when it mattered most.
Nursing a 91-90 lead, Houston turned to Yao, who responded with a turnaround jumper off the glass to extend the lead to 93-90 with 1:25 to play.
Yao sealed the win with two free throws with 11 seconds left. He finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds and was 9-of-10 from the line.
"We had a stretch there where they got most of the hustle plays as I recall," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "They got a couple of play going to the basket and we lost concentration. They got a couple of layups on us that hurt us a great deal."
Tracy McGrady had 26 points and a career-high 16 assists despite leaving the game in the first quarter with a hip pointer. McGrady left the bench with 1:14 to go in the first quarter and went to the locker room with a trainer. He returned to score 20 points in the final three quarters.
"I was really trying to be aggressive," McGrady said. "I was trying to give my teammates open shots and also attack the basket. I was really trying to get to the basket and kick the ball out. I just wanted to take advantage of the matchups I had out there."
Yao was key down the stretch for the Rockets, but Chuck Hayes had a huge impact on the game considering he did not score a point in 26 minutes.
Utah trailed, 94-92, and had the ball. Derek Fisher started a drive from the left side and was met in the lane by Hayes, who drew the charge with 12 seconds left. Rafer Alston then split a pair of free throws and Yao made two to end it.
"It was a gamble I had to take," Hayes said. "(Carlos) Boozer had got the ball and dribbled to his left and I was able to cut him off. He passed off to Fisher and I saw Fisher come around the corner and I was already at the spot. I was just glad the referee pointed the other way. I was afraid the ref would swallow his whistle and not call anything, or give it to the veteran."
"That's not a hard play. That's more of a courageous play," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "He and Shane (Battier) do that for us. It's what he gets paid to do. He's nicely compensated for that."
Utah had the ball down, 93-92, but missed two shots before Alston extended the lead to one with a free throw. Fisher then picked up the charge but chalked the loss up to a lack of execution.
"When I caught the ball I put it down on the floor and went into my shooting motion and I thought I was fouled, but they called a charge against me," Fisher said. "The bottom line was the ball was in my hand at the end of the game and I turned it over. We didn't execute and make our plays down the stretch."
All-Star forward Boozer scored 26 points and had eight rebounds for the Jazz. It was the first time in the series that Boozer did not record a double-double.
Game Six will be in Utah on Thursday, when Houston will look for its first playoff series win since 1997.
"We need to win a game on the road," Van Gundy said. "You just try to play as well as you can and put yourself in position."
The Rockets will need more than McGrady and Yao to come through if they are to close out the series in Game Six. Houston had an NBA record-low four players score in Game Three and McGrady and Yao accounted for 45 percent of its points in Game Four.
On Monday, Battier, Alston and Juwan Howard each hit for double figures. Howard scored his 12 off the bench and reserve guard Luther Head scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter.
Battier was 5-of-7 from the arc and scored 15 points and Alston added 14.
"We finally hit some shots and the pressure subsided," Battier said. "That's their game plan to double Yao and run a guy at Tracy. That's the first time we made them pay."
HOUSTON 96 FINAL
Apr 30 10:29 PM
HOUSTON 68 END, 3RD QTR
Apr 30 9:47 PM
HOUSTON 43 HALFTIME
Apr 30 9:03 PM
HOUSTON 21 END, 1ST QTR
Apr 30 8:33 PM
- NBA China to open basketball-themed Playzone in Shanghai May 17
- Russia bans 24 basketball players in gambling case May 13
- New Jazz uniforms include sleeved alternate jersey May 12
- Utah Jazz extend contract of coach Quin Snyder May 6
- Rockets must find coach in wake of first-round ouster Apr 29
- Warriors reach second round with MVP Stephen Curry sidelined Apr 28
- Warriors roll into second round of playoffs without Curry Apr 28
- Warriors look to advance, Clippers, Heat aim for home wins Apr 27
- Rockets-Warriors Preview Apr 26
- Warriors look to advance, Clippers, Heat aim for home wins Apr 26
- Warriors-Rockets Game 4: most 1st-round viewers since '02 Apr 26
- Stephen Curry out at least 2 weeks with sprained right knee Apr 25