Martin’s 22 lift Rockets past short-handed JazzBy LYNN DeBRUIN, AP Sports Writer Thursday, Feb 3, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—Houston coach Rick Adelman admitted it wasn’t pretty.
But after a three-game losing streak, he didn’t care.
“It was just a great win, a win we really needed,” Adelman said of the Rockets’ come-from-behind 97-96 victory over the short-handed Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
Down 96-94, Shane Battier(notes) got the ball inside to Kevin Martin(notes), who scored on a layup with 6.9 seconds left despite being fouled by Jazz center Al Jefferson(notes). Martin completed the three-point play to put Houston ahead.
C.J. Miles(notes) missed a last-second shot that would have won it for the Jazz, who were without starters Deron Williams(notes) and Andrei Kirilenko(notes) as well as reserve center Mehmet Okur(notes). Combined the three players account for 39.1 points and 11.4 rebounds for the Jazz.
Though Utah seemingly had it won several times, Martin and the Rockets refused to quit.
“Shane was the quarterback right there and I was the wide receiver and I was in triple coverage,” Martin said of the winning play. “It was just like the Giants when they beat the Patriots (in Super Bowl). Shane made a great pass and that was the only place he could have put it, and I just threw something up and it went in.”
Jefferson was equally amazed the shot fell.
“That could have been an easy steal because he really didn’t have control of the ball except for that split second he got it and made a big play,” Jefferson said of Martin. “They really wanted it more and they got it.”
Jefferson and Paul Millsap(notes) scored 20 points apiece to lead the Jazz, while Earl Watson(notes) finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and eight assists starting his fourth straight game in place of Williams.
“It’s definitely tough on your home floor,” said Miles, who added 18 points off the bench. “Kyle Lowry(notes) hit some big shots, some big 3s, that kept them in there. … And then, when you have that look at it to win the game, it makes it even tougher.”
Utah (29-21) outscored Houston 19-7 over the final six minutes of the third quarter to take an 82-79 lead into the fourth.
But the Jazz couldn’t match the Rockets from beyond the arc.
Houston made 11 of 22 on the night, while the Jazz were just 1 of 11 on 3-pointers. Watson was 0 for 4 from beyond the arc, including a key late miss with the Jazz clinging to a 96-94 lead.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan refused to blame injuries on the loss, their eighth in the past 10 games.
“(Houston) was short-handed as well,” Sloan said of the Rockets, who were without Jordan Hill(notes). “I thought they outrebounded us a couple times in crucial situations and came up with the ball. That’s when we’ve got to be a little bit tougher. I think our guys are always trying to fight back. I don’t think they are lacking desire. They played as hard as they could, but made a few mistakes that cost us the ballgame.”
Lowry added 16 points for the Rockets and made 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Utah tied it at 92 on a layup by Millsap, and again at 94 after a steal by Miles. Millsap put Utah ahead 96-94 with 1:25 left after a key rebound by Jefferson.
But the Jazz couldn’t seal it.
Martin said the play was the exact one drawn up on the sideline, though it didn’t unfold quite so easily.
“It’s not going to go as smooth in the game as it is on the chalkboard when coach draws it up, but that’s our fourth-quarter play,” Martin said. “We won many games on that earlier in the season, so we brought it back. It’s a great play.”
Notes: Jazz G Williams saw hand specialist Dr. Steve Huish on Wednesday. An examination of an MRI confirmed a strained tendon and he remains day to day. … Gordon Hayward(notes) started at forward in place of Kirilenko and was 4 of 4 for 10 points. … The Rockets led 30-26 after the first quarter thanks to 61.1 percent (11 of 16) shooting. .. The Jazz had a 19-4 edge in second-chance points.