SALT LAKE CITY, April 9 (Ticker) --
The Houston Rockets got off to a
bad start, and it only got worse from there.
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The Utah Jazz scored the game's first 11 points and steadily
pulled away, dealing the Rockets' playoff hopes a major blow
with a 94-73 victory.
scored 23 points for the playoff-bound Jazz, who
snapped a three-game losing streak and rebounded from Tuesday's
128-102 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
"We needed this win in a bad way," Harpring said. "We had lost
three in a row, so we needed to come in here and get a big win."
But not as badly as Houston (40-39), which got more bad news
when Phoenix defeated Dallas on Wednesday. That dropped the
Rockets 2 1/2 games behind the Suns -- and to the brink of
elimination -- in the battle for the final Western Conference
"We haven't given up yet," Houston rookie center Yao Ming
through an interpreter. Yao scored only six points in 23
But the Rockets have not been playing like a team battling for
its playoff lives. In Tuesday's 81-66 setback to Portland,
Houston shot a franchise-low 29.5 percent from the field. The
Rockets were not much better in this one, shooting only 31.5
"I really can't explain it," Rockets acting coach Larry Smith
said. "We get good looks at the basket. We get open shots, and
we just can't put it in the basket."
and Maurice Taylor
led the Rockets with just 10
points apiece. Cuttino Mobley
scored just nine points and Steve
"I thought we played hard," Smith said. "But if you don't
score, thinks look really, really bad out there."
Wednesday's effort was quite a turnaround for the Jazz, who
allowed the high-scoring Warriors to shoot 52.5 percent just 24
"I thought we did an excellent job defensively, especially on
the starting five," Harpring said. "We were moving more. We
seemed to have more energy tonight. The game came a lot easier
tonight than the last three games."
"I thought we were alive right from the start," Utah coach Jerry
Sloan added. "We have got to learn how to stay focused on our
execution and understand what we are supposed to do on both ends
of the floor."
Utah build a 24-17 first-quarter lead, then allowed just 11
points in the second period to extend its advantage to 42-28 at
"We need rest, there's no question about it," Smith said. "We're
banged up. But I can't use it as an excuse. We've still got to
play. We've gotta suck it up and get through it."
The Rockets had only 46 points after three quarters before
scoring 27 in the final period, when the contest was out of
reach. Utah led by as many as 25 in the final minutes.
"We needed to get everyone out there and contribute," said Utah
forward Scott Padgett
, who chipped in 13 points off the bench.
"It was a good way to get over last night."
contributed 15 points and Karl Malone
for the Jazz, who shot 46 percent (35-of-76). Greg Ostertag
grabbed 12 rebounds.