Landry, Rockets take Game Three vs. JazzApr 25, 2008 - 7:24 AM By Chris Bellamy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- For the second time this season, the Houston Rockets accomplished the near-impossible, beating the Utah Jazz on their home floor.
Carl Landry saved the season for the Rockets on Thursday, recording a crucial block with two-tenths of a second left and using a decisive run to stun the Jazz, 94-92, on the floor where they lost just four games all season.
"Landry saved the game or we might be down 3-0," Rockets point guard Rafer Alston said.
With the surprising victory, the Rockets rebounded from a pair of disheartening home losses and cut into Utah's once-commanding 2-0 series lead.
"We did a lot of great things this season. We won 22 games (in a row), we overcame the big loss of Yao (Ming) and were still able to make the playoffs. But this was the biggest win of the season," Houston superstar Tracy McGrady said. "It really was. We played like we really didn't want to go home early."
McGrady scored 27 points and Alston added 20 in his return to the lineup to lead Houston to the upset victory.
Now, the Rockets will at least get a Game Five in Houston - and even have a chance to tie the series if they can repeat Thursday's performance on Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
"We had to get (the win). Now, we've got to just re-group for a day and see if we can't get the second one," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. "We know we're going home, we know we've got another game here. ... I think our guys felt all along we could play with them."
After Andrei Kirilenko gave Utah an 86-83 lead with 4 1/2 minutes left in the fourth, the Rockets started answering back.
Alston hit a floater from the baseline to pull to within one, and McGrady followed by hitting 3-of-4 from the foul line to give Houston the lead.
"They did a great job down the stretch. T-Mac took over the game a little bit, and they got great play from everybody," Williams said. "It's very frustrating. I thought we would come out with a little more intensity. You've got to give credit to them."
Moments later, McGrady buried an 18-footer and Landry added a free throw on a foul away from the ball - and just like that, the Rockets were in the driver's seat with a seven-point advantage.
"I was waiting for the right time. I was trying to be passive early in the fourth quarter, and I felt like if we were to keep it close, I was waiting for the right time to really assert myself on the offensive end," McGrady said. "I got myself going, got to the free-throw line, and from that point on, it was 1-on-1 coverage and I hit some shots."
But the Jazz didn't go away that quickly. Kyle Korver and Mehmet Okur hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull the Jazz to within one with 37 seconds remaining.
But even after McGrady missed a fadeaway on the other end, Utah couldn't pull ahead. Deron Williams had his off-balance runner blocked by Landry, and Luis Scola snared the rebound with just two-tenths remaining on the clock.
"We kind of scrambled. I ended up throwing it to Kyle and I didn't see Shane (Battier) on him, there were so many people down there," Williams said. "I got it back with about six seconds left and tried to drive, and Landry made a great play."
"I take the blame for the last play," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We got screwed up on the same play we'd run two others times in a row and scored off of. We didn't get into it, it didn't materialize, and that's my responsibility."
After Scola went 1-of-2 from the line, Williams' inbound pass was intercepted by Dikembe Mutombo, sealing the upset victory.
Houston forced Utah out of its rhythm early, opening up an eight-point lead thanks in part to a Jazz squad which managed just 40 percent shooting from the floor and 59 percent from the free-throw line in the first half.
Alston, who was absent from the first two games of the series with a strained left hamstring, returned to the starting lineup and wasted no time energizing the stagnant Houston offense, pacing the Rockets with 11 first-quarter points as they held a lead for most of the first half.
"You can see why they won 22 ballgames in a row," Sloan said. "They had Alston back with them, and he adds a great dimension to their team and can make shots. You can't help as much on people inside with him out there on the floor."
But the Jazz closed the half on a 13-5 run to tie the game at 44-44 apiece.
It was the same story in the third quarter - Houston jumped out to a lead and, in just two minutes, it evaporated again.
Facing a six-point deficit less than four minutes into the quarter, the Jazz responded immediately. Ronnie Brewer hit back-to-back layups before Kirilenko's 3-pointer - the 6-9 forward's first basket of the night - put Utah back on top by one.
Williams followed with a driving layup and Okur knocked down his first 3-pointer of the night as Utah took a six-point edge.
Williams had 28 points and 12 assists to lead Utah, which struggled from the free-throw line all night, including a pair of crucial misses from Carlos Boozer late in the fourth. Boozer was 3-of-8 from the line overall.
"It was a physical game, you know, it was a defensive game, but the game was lost for us on the free-throw line," Boozer said. "I think we missed 13 as a team - that's the game right there. We make those free throws, we win the game."
UTAH 92 FINAL
Apr 25 1:15 AM
UTAH 76 END, 3RD QTR
Apr 25 12:33 AM
UTAH 44 HALFTIME
Apr 24 11:45 PM
UTAH 23 END, 1ST QTR
Apr 24 11:08 PM
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