Utah 90, Houston 84

HOUSTON, April 21 (AP) -- Tracy McGrady bent over in exhaustion as the final seconds ticked away of another playoff loss.

The seven-time All-Star had 23 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, but faltered again in the fourth quarter as the Utah Jazz beat the Houston Rockets 90-84 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Deron Williams, who briefly left the game with an injury, finished with 22 points and Mehmet Okur added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Jazz, who have won eight of the last 10 meetings with Houston.

Game 3 is Thursday night in Utah, where the Jazz went 37-4 during the regular season.

"It's great for us to come out the way we did and not settle for the one victory," said Williams, who re-aggravated a tailbone injury. "We wanted to get both of them, get greedy. We've just got to go back now and take care of business."

McGrady, who has never advanced past the first round of the playoffs, fell just short of his first postseason triple-double, but he went 0-for-4 from the field and scored only one point in the final quarter. He scored 20 points in Game 1, but went 0-for-3 from the field in the fourth quarter of Utah's 93-82 victory.

McGrady played 43 minutes and said he was tired at the end of Monday night's game, a combination of Utah's physical defense and his efforts to carry his team.

"I had no legs. I was on empty," McGrady said. "Banging with Matt Harpring, trying to rebound, trying to make plays for my team, trying to score, playing 43 minutes. That's a lot."

The Rockets still had their chances to win.

Luis Scola hit two free throws with 1:21 to go to cut Utah's lead to 85-82.

After Williams missed a driving layup, Houston's Bobby Jackson hit a 3-pointer that would have tied the game but Scola was called for an offensive foul away from the ball when he pushed Andrei Kirilenko.

McGrady blasted official Tony Brothers for the call and accused Kirilenko of exaggerating the contact.

"You can't call that," he said. "I like Tony Brothers, but that was a bad call. Very, very bad call. Three points down, crucial point in the game and Kirilenko flops. He flops and you call a foul on that? It was a bad call."

Kirilenko grabbed an offensive rebound on Utah's next possession and Kyle Korver flipped in a one-handed shot as the shot clock expired to put the game out of reach with 20 seconds to go.

Carlos Boozer added 13 points and Williams had five assists for the Jazz, who closed the game with a 14-8 run. Utah went only 17-24 on the road during the regular season, but the Jazz have won four straight playoff games in Houston, including the last two games at the Toyota Center in the first round last year.

"It's big for us," Boozer said. "We came in here trying to get Game 1. That was a tough task, but we accomplished it. And then Game 2 was tough, but we held our composure down the stretch and got a win."

Jackson bounced back from a 3-for-15 performance in Game 1 to score 18 points.

The Jazz led most of the way and were up 64-61 with 1:47 left in the third quarter when Williams limped to the locker room with a trainer after re-aggravating the injury that has bothered him for a week.

Ronnie Price, Williams' replacement, hit a 3-pointer just before the quarter ended to give Utah a 69-67 lead. Williams returned to the bench before the final quarter began.

He was back on the court with 9:18 left in the game, after Aaron Brooks blew by Price for a game-tying layup. McGrady went out for a rest when Williams came back and Williams drove for a layup with 7:41 left to put the Jazz up 76-74.

McGrady returned with 7:07 remaining and was fouled on a jumper with 6:39 left. He hit a free throw to tie the game at 76-all. Williams hit a short shot at the other end to put Utah back on top.

Kirilenko stole the ball from McGrady near the 5-minute mark and Williams made a free throw to give the Jazz an 81-76 lead. McGrady finished with five turnovers.

While the Rockets played better than they did in Game 1, they still had no answer for Williams, who hit the first three 3-pointers he attempted.

Boozer committed his second foul and went to the bench with 5:47 left in the first quarter, but the Rockets started committing careless turnovers that led to easy baskets and Utah stretched the lead.

Houston shot and rebounded better than it did in the first half of Game 1, but trailed by exactly the same score at the break, 47-41. Okur, who scored only four points in the opener, had 10 in the first half on Monday, including two 3-pointers in the final 35 seconds.

"My teammates created open shots for me and I felt real good," Okur said. "I was focused and I hit my shots."

Houston scored mostly inside in the first half, but went 0-for-7 from 3-point range.

The Rockets will need a near-miraculous comeback to win in the playoffs for the first time since the 1996-97 season. They can conjure hope from the fact that they handed Utah one of its four home losses this season -- but that was at the start of the regular season.

"It's not over yet," Okur said. "We're very happy to get two wins in Houston. We have to do the same things in Utah that we did in Houston and be ready to go after them at home."

Notes: The Jazz have led at halftime in all nine playoff games with Houston dating to last season. ... Houston has lost its last four playoff series after dropping the first game. They haven't won a series after losing Game 1 since the second round in 1995, their second championship season, when they rallied past Phoenix in seven games. ... Reserve Chuck Hayes grabbed 10 rebounds for Houston.

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