Kirilenko, Jazz take Game One from RocketsApr 20, 2008 - 6:03 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
HOUSTON (Ticker) - Carlos Boozer combined his strong inside game with a soft shooting touch to power the Utah Jazz to a 93-82 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night in Game One of their Western Conference first-round series at the Toyota Center.
Boozer collected 20 points and 16 rebounds to overcome foul trouble in the third quarter to give Utah a 1-0 lead over the Rockets, who lost to the Jazz in last season's opening round.
Andrei Kirilenko scored 21 points and Deron Williams added 20 and 10 assists for the Jazz, who held the Rockets to just 36 percent (29-of-79) from the field.
Last season, the Jazz lost their first three playoff games in Houston before finally taking the series in Game Seven.
"We've been a bad road team all year," Utah forward Matt Harping said. "That's why this is important."
Utah hurt Houston on the glass in last season's playoffs, particularly with offensive rebounds late in Game Seven that the Jazz won in Houston.
Utah picked up from where it left off by outworking Houston on the boards early Saturday night, owning an 18-6 advantage through the first 1 1/2 quarters. The Jazz held a narrow 40-37 edge in rebounds.
They also used a 10-4 run late in the first and maintained the lead for the rest of the opening half, leading 47-41 at intermission. Kirilenko was huge in the first half with 12 points as Utah shot 50 percent.
Kirilenko was nearly invisible in last season's series against Houston.
"I've got my confidence back," Kirilenko said. "I don't think it's my job (to stop Tracy McGrady). It's a team job. I don't think it's possible to guard him 1-on-1 for the whole 48 minutes."
McGrady scored 13 of his 20 points in the first half for the Rockets, who scored seven straight points to take a 53-51 lead in the third.
Houston's starting backcourt of McGrady and Bobby Jackson struggled in this one, connecting on 10-of-36 shots combined.
"I don't think it was our defense as much as they missed shots," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.
"We did a good job making them take tough shots," Boozer said. "Ronnie Brewer did a good job on (McGrady), and then (Kirilenko) came in there on him."
Jackson got the call in place of injured guard Rafer Alston, who also is expected to miss Game Two with a strained hamstring.
"We missed (Alston)," McGrady said. "We missed his long-range shooting, his controlling the tempo of the offense, his defensive presence."
Shane Battier led the Rockets with 22 points.
"I thought we had a lot of shots at the bucket that we just couldn't convert, and those are the real killers," said Battier, who made all seven of his field-goal attempts.
"I'm disappointed in the way we played," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "But you've to give Utah credit. They played a lot better than we did."
Utah responded with six consecutive points by Boozer to go back in front 57-53. But Boozer picked up his fourth foul on the next play with 6:30 left and was forced to sit out the rest of the quarter.
"We tried to be aggresssive," Boozer said. "We have to put pressure on them."
The Rockets tied it again on McGrady's free throw, but the Jazz pulled ahead again to take a 68-60 lead after three quarters thanks to a pair of 3-pointers from reserve Kyle Korver.
"I missed a couple before that," Korver said. "I kind of rushed them. I kind of slide to the open spot on the first one and Deron found me. The second one, I saw Deron pushing it and the whole defense sucked in on him."
"I just remember where we made two mistakes on Korver," Adelman said. "He's a great shooter and we went underneath on one pick and then we went into help (on the other) and we weren't supposed to. You can't do stuff like that."
Korver scored 17 points when Utah beat Houston here in January, just before the Rockets started their 22-game winning streak.
Utah stretched its lead to 79-64 with 7:31 to play in the fourth on a pair of baskets by Boozer.
HOUSTON 82 FINAL
Apr 20 12:08 AM
HOUSTON 60 END, 3RD QTR
Apr 19 11:31 PM
HOUSTON 41 HALFTIME
Apr 19 10:43 PM
HOUSTON 18 END, 1ST QTR
Apr 19 10:07 PM
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