SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—Mehmet Okur scored like he used to and played defense like he never has before.
Okur scored 16 and helped limit Houston’s Yao Ming to 20 points in Utah’s 98-85 win over the Rockets on Saturday night, tying the series at 2-2.
The Jazz forced 16 turnovers, sapped the Rockets’ will with another dominant third quarter and kept Houston from going to the free-throw line.
“Our guys were alive defensively,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. “It’s a three-game series now. We’ll see what happens.”
Deron Williams added 25 points, including 11 in the third quarter. Utah outscored Houston 33-17 in the period and again flustered the Rockets into a listless second half. It was the same formula Utah used in its win Thursday, when only four Rockets scored at all.
This time Houston got points from 10 players, but not nearly enough from any of them, including Yao and Tracy McGrady.
McGrady scored 18 and both he and Yao had their lowest point totals of the series.
“They’re doing a great job of putting the pressure on us,” McGrady said. “They’re playing harder than us.”
Game 5 is Monday in Houston, where the Rockets won the first two games of the series.
Okur hadn’t scored more than seven in the first three games of the series and ended up tying his career playoff high. On defense, he made Yao miserable again, keeping him from getting inside much and swiping the ball away with quicker hands several times.
Yao had finally had enough by the fourth quarter and landed an elbow to Okur’s chin while trying to get him out of the way for a shot in the lane. Yao was called for an offensive foul on the play.
“I just want to play good defense on him, grab those rebounds and we go from there,” Okur said.
For the first time in the series, the Rockets went to the line fewer times than the Jazz. Utah was 26-for-33 from the line and Houston just 15-for-20.
Houston finished with 16 turnovers, leading to 18 points for Utah.
Williams drove around Yao for a layup just seconds before halftime to give Utah a 50-45 lead, and then the Jazz pulled away with the first eight points of the third period and the demoralized Rockets didn’t make much of a threat from there.
Okur hit a 17-foot jumper at the beginning of the third, Boozer tipped in a rebound and Williams added a jumper and two free throws as Utah’s five-point lead grew to 58-45.
The Rockets didn’t score in the third until Yao’s turnaround jumper nearly 3 minutes into the period.
“They are making it a lot harder on us, than we are making it on them,” Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “It’s not just getting one guy in gear. We’ve got to get our team competing at a higher level.”
Utah was 11-for-18 from the floor during the third and added a 10-1 run late in the quarter after Houston had gotten within 80-62 on a 3-pointer by Luther Head.
The Rockets had a 2-on-1 going right after that, but Fisher broke it up with a steal that started a break for Utah. Gordan Giricek finished it by setting up for a 3-pointer just before the buzzer and Utah led 83-62.
Williams also had seven assists. … Okur added six rebounds. … Four Houston starters scored at least 10, but none of the reserves reached double digits. … Andrei Kirilenko had four blocks and four assists for Utah.