Jazz 99, Rockets 92

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HOUSTON (AP)—Matt Harpring, Raja Bell and the Utah Jazz are the latest team to bury the Houston Rockets in the fourth quarter.

Harpring scored 28 points and Bell added 21 to lead the Jazz to a 99-92 win over the Rockets on Sunday, snapping a four-game losing streak.

“We got on a roll on offense in the fourth quarter,” said Harpring, who had 10 points in the fourth. “We had the right plays and we executed.”

Houston, which led by as many as 10 points in the first half, has dropped three straight after winning eight in a row. The Rockets have been outscored by 27 points in the fourth quarter during the skid, which also includes losses to Seattle and San Antonio.

“We just haven’t been prepared going into the fourth quarter to finish the game,” Yao Ming said. “Our opponents have been better prepared and tougher in the fourth.”

Tracy McGrady led the Rockets with 23 points and Mike James, in his first game with the Rockets, added 19. He started after being traded from Milwaukee last week.

Houston got just 12 points and four rebounds from Yao, who averages 18.7 points. He got in foul trouble early and struggled throughout, missing at least three baskets from right under the basket.

Bell’s 3-pointer with 8:51 remaining capped five straight points by the Jazz and put Utah ahead 78-73. Utah used an 8-2 run that ended with Bell’s tip-in basket with 4:40 remaining to extend the lead to 88-78.

Bell was perfect from 3-point range, going 3-of-3, all in the second half.

James’ 3 with 1:10 left got Houston to 96-89, but the Rockets would get no closer. He added another 3 with 11 seconds left.

Harpring scored eight points for the Jazz in the last 4 minutes to ensure the win.

“Matt was big inside,” said Utah coach Jerry Sloan. “He got the big shots for us in the fourth quarter.”

“We made the shots and got in a rhythm. We got the ball to them in a rhythm so they didn’t have to stand around and wait for it.”

The game was tied at 42-all at halftime and again at 69 after three quarters.

The Rockets haven’t won since starting point guard Bob Sura’s back injury flared up on Feb. 22. He will be sidelined until at least March 5.

Utah outrebounded the Rockets 39-31, including 17-9 on the offensive end, holding Houston to a season low.

“Our rebounding is atrocious,” Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “We got outworked and they don’t even realize it. It was easy for Utah today.”

Mehmet Okur added 14 points and had nine rebounds for the Jazz, and Andrei Kirilenko had 13 points.

“In the fourth quarter we were so concentrated with our effort,” Kirilenko said. “We had more confidence and we didn’t let Houston come back.”


With the win, Sloan moves into a tie with Dick Motta for seventh place on the all-time regular-season victories list with 935. “I played for him and I’ve always admired him,” Sloan said. “But records are not what he’s about and that’s not what I’m about.” … With Sunday’s start, James became the fifth starting point guard for Houston this season. … Sura missed the first 14 games of the season after surgery to repair a herniated disc in his lower back Sept. 1. … Neither team made a 3 in the first half, with Houston shooting 0-of-11 and the Jazz missing four attempts.

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