Rockets 84, Jazz 63

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HOUSTON (AP)—The Houston Rockets played the best defensive game in their history Saturday night, although nobody was sure exactly how.

“There are two sides to it,” Yao Ming said after Houston defeated the Utah Jazz 84-63 Saturday night. “We played very hard and were thoroughly prepared for them. But they had a very bad night offensively.”

Steve Francis had 17 points, Yao added 16, Cuttino Mobley had 13 and Kelvin Cato added 11 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.

DeShawn Stevenson’s 11 points led the Jazz, who scored just seven points in the fourth quarter and had their lowest point total of the season.

The previous low for a Rockets opponent was 66 by both the 76ers and Bulls earlier this season.

“I don’t know how we do it, because nobody talks to each other out there,” Francis said. “It’s just that everyone seems to know where to go.”

After a tight first quarter, Utah scored only one field goal the first 7:03 of the second quarter. Houston took a 33-20 lead with 5:34 left in the half after a 12-0 run.

Taylor had 12 points at the half, including eight in the second quarter, as Houston led 42-33.

Francis had 10 points in the third quarter as Houston took a 66-56 lead into the final period. A 16-2 run by the Rockets gave them their biggest lead of the night, 84-61 with 1:22 remaining.

“At times, we play very good defense,” Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “We had some sequences that were very good tonight. There were a few 24-second violations (two on Utah) and that indicates you are sustaining your concentration and intensity.”

Utah shot only 3-of-20 in the fourth quarter, and its seven points were only two points better than club’s low for a quarter set Dec. 1, 1981 against the Lakers.

“We didn’t put up much resistance,” coach Jerry Sloan said. “They just dominated the whole game. They kept us where they wanted us pretty much the whole night.

“Their bigs guys just made it very difficult for us to get anything inside. They blocked some shots in between.”

Andrei Kirilenko scored 10 points and had no excuses.

“They played good defensively and we were playing not so good offensively,” he said. “I think we lost the game because we lost on rebounds, especially on defensive ones. Kelvin Cato, (Maurice) Taylor and Yao Ming justcrashed our boards, and the NBA team that wins the rebounds, wins the game.”


Clarence Weatherspoon, acquired by Houston from New York last Tuesday, was in uniform but did not play … Utah’s Matt Harpring did not dress because of a sprained right knee. … Neither team has scored 100 points in the Rockets’ last eight home games … Jerry Sloan is two wins short of his 800th regular-season win. He’s nine short of 900 all-time coaching wins … Sloan got a technical in the third quarter for slapping the scorer’s table after a call he didn’t like … After losing to Memphis on Friday, the Jazz are 1-5 in firstgames of back-to-backs and 2-4 in second games.

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 Top Performers
C. Arroyo C. Arroyo
4-12,  8 Pts
4 Rebs, 9 Assists
S. Francis S. Francis
7-12,  17 Pts
6 Rebs, 7 Assists

Team Stat Leaders