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 Yao, Alston carry Rockets past Jazz 108-99

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PostSubject: Yao, Alston carry Rockets past Jazz 108-99   Yao, Alston carry Rockets past Jazz 108-99 Icon_minitimeThu Jan 22, 2009 7:20 pm

HOUSTON(AP) No matter who's in the lineup, no
matter when they meet during the season, the Houston Rockets always
expect a tough game against the Utah Jazz.Yao Ming had 19 points
and 12 rebounds, Rafer Alston scored 23 and the Rockets built a big
lead, then hung on to beat the Jazz 108-99 on Wednesday night.Deron
Williams had 32 points and 11 assists and Ronnie Brewer had 23 points
for the Jazz, who've dropped seven of their past 10 road games. Andrei
Kirilenko sat out for Utah after leaving Tuesday's game against
Minnesota with a right ankle injury.Utah has also been playing without Carlos Boozer, who's expected to miss about two more weeks after knee surgery on Jan. 9.But
just as they did in a double-overtime loss to Houston on Dec. 27, the
Jazz rallied from 16 points down in the third quarter to make it
interesting at the end."It's really hard for them to give up,''
said Luis Scola, who had 19 points and nine rebounds for Houston. "That
pretty much guarantees it's going to be a close game.''This
time, Houston led 91-87 before Von Wafer sank a 3-pointer from the
corner with 2:35 left in the game, his first field goal of the second
half. Wafer went 3-for-5 from 3-point range and scored 21 points.The
Jazz got no closer than five after that, though Mehmet Okur missed an
open 3 in the final minute that would've cut the lead to four again."They're
always going to be tough,'' Alston said. "They play so hard, they play
intense, they don't back down. They compete with the best of them.''The
Rockets were also short-handed, playing again without Ron Artest and
Tracy McGrady, who've missed most of January with injuries.Houston went 27-for-28 from the free-throw line - 13-for-13 in the fourth quarter - and outrebounded Utah 43-37."We got down early and it put us in a tough predicament,'' Williams said. "We couldn't recover from it.''The
Jazz didn't double-team Yao as often as many teams do, but they used
every big man available to defend him. Yao went 5-for-8 from the field,
but 9-for-9 from the free-throw line."It really wears you down,
having to guard him all game,'' said forward Paul Millsap, who scored
20, but also got five fouls trying to stop Yao. "You pay for it at the
offensive end of the court.''The Jazz played in Salt Lake City
on Tuesday night and looked tired at the start, missing nine of their
first 15 shots. The Rockets started 8-for-11 from the field and led
23-13.Utah continued to shoot poorly in the second quarter and
Houston stretched the margin to 16. The Jazz defense was also a step
slow in the first half, leaving Houston's perimeter shooters open
enough to go 8-for-14 from 3-point range."We didn't have the energy we needed,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We didn't play any defense to start the game.''The
Jazz cut the deficit to nine early in the third quarter, but Yao hit a
free throw and Alston sank back-to-back 3-pointers to restore Houston's
16-point lead. Utah came back as its shooting improved, and Brewer's
3-pointer with 3:07 left in the third quarter trimmed the Rockets' lead
to 72-66."The way they play, they will always have a chance to win,'' Scola said of the Jazz.Utah
shot 52 percent in the third quarter and trailed 80-73 heading to the
fourth. Yao went to the bench with his fifth foul with 8:16 left and
Houston up 85-76.Williams sank a 3-pointer, drove for a layup
and found Brewer on a fast break in a 1-minute span to cut Houston's
lead to four with 2:49 to go. Rockets coach Rick Adelman called time
out to get Yao back in the game.

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