AK 47 Steps Up, Jazz Force a Game Seven Versus RocketsAndrei Kirilenko emerged from his season-long hibernation to provide a spark at both ends of the court as the Utah Jazz defeated the Houston Rockets 94-82, forcing a seventh game. Kirilenko, who made his mark as a player who can stuff a box score in a variety of ways, finished with 14 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and five blocked shots. Carlos Boozer had another strong game--22 points, nine rebounds--and Mehmet Okur chipped in 19 points, making four of his seven three pointers. Tracy McGrady led the Rockets with 26 points and 10 rebounds, but shot just 8-23 from the field and had five turnovers. Yao Ming contributed 25 points but he committed eight turnovers and only had only six rebounds.
McGrady and Yao carried the Rockets early in the game, scoring 10 and six points respectively as the Rockets led 22-20 after the first quarter. The Jazz pulled ahead in the second quarter and led at halftime, as they have in each game so far. They extended their slender 43-40 advantage to 65-54 in the third quarter but the Rockets got the Jazz into the penalty and narrowed the margin by scoring from the free throw line, getting their last eight points of the quarter from the charity stripe and closing the gap to 68-62.
Shane Battier's three pointer with 8:15 left in the fourth quarter got Houston to within 75-74, but the Rockets were never able to take the lead. Utah closed the game with a 13-4 run in the last 3:38.
This series has gone strictly "by the book," with the home team winning each game. Houston and Utah are very evenly matched, so that is not surprising. Expect another hard fought, low scoring contest and another victory by the home team in game seven--which means that Tracy McGrady will finally make it to the second round of the playoffs. Look for him to carry the day in game seven, possibly with a big scoring game but definitely by taking over at a crucial moment, either by scoring or by racking up assists.
posted by David Friedman @ 2:27 AM