Utah (17-15) at Houston (17-14)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 83° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Sat Jan 3, 2004
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Mike Wilks has played in only five games this season, but he knows his role is about to get significantly bigger.

When the Houston Rockets traded reserve point guard Moochie Norris, along with John Amaechi, to the New York Knicks for Clarence Weatherspoon on Tuesday, Wilks became Steve Francis’ primary backup.

He’ll continue to grow into his new role when the Rockets meet the Utah Jazz at the Toyota Center.

Wilks, on injured reserve with a bruised right shoulder much of the season, had played in only four game for a total of 16 minutes before the trade.

He came off the bench to help spark a 12-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter Wednesday in an 80-72 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Though he did not score, the 5-foot-11 guard had two assists and three rebounds in eight minutes.

“The last two days have been so crazy,” Wilks said. “When I heard (the trade) happened, my mouth was just wide open. I was in shock. I lost two of my best friends on the team. You don’t get used to losing friends like that.

“But getting this opportunity meant a lot. My teammates all calmed me down and told me they had confidence in me. I liked it that the coach had confidence to put me in like that tonight.”

Yao Ming scored 21 points and Cuttino Mobley had 20 as the Rockets held the Sixers to 34.7 percent shooting. Francis added 15 points as Houston ended a two-game losing streak.

“We had to start the new year off right,” Mobley said. “We didn’t play our best, but we won. I guess we’re making progress.”

The Jazz have lost two of three, falling a half-game behind the Rockets in the Midwest Division.

Carlos Arroyo scored 25 points Friday, but the Jazz lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 100-88. Utah, which has an average rebounding edge of more than six over its opponents this season, was outrebounded 43-39, and coach Jerry Sloan was not pleased.

“They put it to us, and we just started crying to the refs,” Sloan said. “We were not running. We looked casual. We just stood around and got smacked.

“They knew we were soft, but I didn’t realize we were this soft. We need to grow up and stop crying to the refs whenever we get knocked around.”

Greg Ostertag, who had missed two of the previous three games with a strained left knee, was back in the starting lineup. He had six points and 11 rebounds.

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