Rockets Fizzle at the Start but Sizzle in the Second Half to Take a 2-0 Lead Over UtahHouston outscored Utah 59-49 in the second half to secure a 98-90 win and a 2-0 series lead. Tracy McGrady had 31 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals but shot just 9-29 from the field. Yao Ming added 27 points and nine rebounds despite also struggling with his shot (9-24). The Rockets shot just 30-83 (.361) but triumphed because of their tremendous free throw shooting: 34-38 (.895). Carlos Boozer had a great game for Utah (41 points, 12 rebounds, six assists) but he received little help outside of Deron Williams (15 points, seven assists, seven rebounds) and Matt Harpring (14 points, 7-14 shooting); Andrei Kirilenko, who shed tears after game one when speaking with reporters about his diminished role on the team, shot 0-3 from the field and did not score a point, while Mehmet Okur had 10 rebounds and six assists but shot just 2-9, scoring only four points.
How important is it to take a 2-0 series lead? There have been 348 seven game series in NBA history and only 11 teams have come back from a 2-0 deficit. Of course, McGrady and Yao were on the wrong end of one of those comebacks in 2005 versus Dallas. Houston and Utah had virtually identical records during the regular season, so it would not be surprising to see this series extend out to six or seven games but make no mistake about it: Utah faces an uphill climb now, with little margin for error.
Utah got off to a great start, just like in game one, but was unable to sustain it--just like in game one. The Jazz opened the game with a 10-2 run and were up 17-8 midway through the first quarter. Boozer scored 13 of Utah's first 15 points and and had 15 points in the first quarter. Houston got within 19-15 before Utah closed the period with a 7-2 run to lead 26-17 going into the second quarter.
Houston held Boozer to four points in the second quarter and Shane Battier's three pointer tied the score at 39 with 1:54 remaining. Derek Fisher's layup closed out the scoring as Utah led 41-39 at the half. Houston shot just 2-17 from three point range in the first half but got solid production from both Yao (12 points, six rebounds) and McGrady (11 points). Boozer had 19 points and eight rebounds.
Yao opened the second half by converting a three point play, giving the Rockets their first lead of the night (42-41). The lead changed hands for most of the period but the Rockets began to take control late in the quarter and were up 67-62 going into the fourth quarter. The Rockets used an 8-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter to build a 76-64 lead and the Jazz got no closer than four points after that. Boozer scored 12 of Utah's 28 fourth quarter points.
posted by David Friedman @ 3:43 AM