Final - 2OT
  for this game

Artest, Yao lead Rockets past undermanned Jazz

Dec 28, 2008 - 5:36 AM By Jeremy Rakes PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Ron Artest scored 28 points, including 10 in the second overtime, to lead the Houston Rockets to a 120-115 win over the shorthanded Utah Jazz in double overtime on Saturday to end a two-game losing streak.

Artest, who did not play Friday night against New Orleans, is still being hampered by a sore right ankle. He played 40 minutes off the bench Saturday and hit 11-of-11 free throws while adding eight rebounds.

The Rockets opened the second overtime on a 15-6 run to grab a 116-107 lead with 52 seconds left on a pair of free throws by Artest, who went 8-of-8 from the line in the spurt.

"I asked coach (Rick Adelman) and sometimes you have to rest and sometimes the adrenaline is flowing," Artest said.

"I thought it would have been smarter if I had taken this game off, but (Tracy McGrady) wasn't playing, and we were in desperate need of multiple victories, so when you think about the team, and you think about winning and how you can help, that's the reason for me playing."

Artest added that Adelman went to him in overtime and had a good play designed that the Rockets took advantage of.

"We decided to go to Ron at the start of overtime to see what he could do with it inside, and he was able to convert," Adelman said. "He made some really big plays for us."

In the first overtime, Rafer Alston gave Houston a 101-98 lead with 57 seconds left on a 3-pointer, but Kyrylo Fesenko converted a slam dunk on the other end to cut the deficit to one.

After Yao Ming missed on the other end, Ronnie Brewer grabbed a rebound off Andrei Kirilenko's miss and was fouled. He hit 1-of-2 free throws to tie the score at 101-101 and send the game to a second overtime.

"We didn't execute our offense down the stretch, and that's not who we are," Jazz guard Deron Williams said. "We had a couple chances to win the game, and we couldn't get the job done."

Utah trailed by as many as 16 in the third quarter before cutting the deficit to one on Williams' jumper with 1:41 remaining in the fourth quarter.

"There were a lot of emotions out there," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "It was a winnable game, but we missed a couple free throws that killed us. It was a tough loss to swallow. I was proud of our guys, and the way we played."

Alston made two free throws to up the lead to three, but Kyle Korver made a layup to cut the lead to 95-94. After Alston hit 1-of-2 free throws, Williams made a layup with 12 seconds left to tie the score at 96-96.

Artest had a chance to win the game in regulation but missed a 3-pointer.

"They came at us in the fourth quarter and our guys stuck with it and we made big plays," Adelman said. "So many guys contributed. I thought Rafer was really good on Williams, just trying to stay in front of him, but sometimes you just have to gut the game out, and that is what we did tonight."

Playing without McGrady, who sat out the game with a sore left knee, Yao added 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead Houston. Alston had 13 points, and Shane Battier scored 11 for Houston, while Luis Scola added 10 and 14 rebounds.

Houston made 32-of-38 from the free-throw line on the night.

"It was a long game, and we also played in overtime, but also, when you have an eight-point lead and let them come back, that makes you really frustrated," Yao said. "You have to win games.

"I was able to get some shots and also to kick it out so that our guys could shoot threes in the fourth quarter and overtime. We just didn't have great success doing that all the time."

Playing without their leading three scorers - Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap and Mehmet Okur, who all stayed in Salt Lake City - the Jazz were led by Brewer with 23 points. Kirilenko added 20 points and 10 rebounds while Williams finished with 14 and 11 assists.

"It was a nice game and very intense," Kirilenko said. "We came back in the second half, but we couldn't finish the game. Our defense was good and forced Houston to shoot more jump shots in the second half.

"Definitely, (Artest) is a great addition to their team. He is a terrific player, and everyone respects him. He was the key to their victory in overtime."