<
>

Houston opens extra period with 10-2 run

12/4/2003

HOUSTON (AP) -- Jeff Van Gundy has noticed that the Houston
Rockets seem to do well when Cuttino Mobley has a big game.

So he encouraged Mobley on Wednesday, and the shooting guard
responded with a season-high 32 points to help the Rockets defeat
the Utah Jazz 107-101 in overtime.

"We had a sense of urgency tonight," Mobley said. "For
myself, I was just trying to think about being aggressive. Coach
was telling me the last couple of days he wants me to be aggressive
so I tried to be that tonight."

The Rockets had a season-high point total, and Mobley had the
highest scoring game by any Houston player this season. Houston
improved to 5-1 when he leads the team in scoring.

"I thought Cuttino gutted it out," Van Gundy said. "He played
51 minutes and made some big shots for us. He also got a big
rebound for us (with 21 seconds to play). It was a really good game
for him."

The Jazz were impressed by Mobley.

"We weren't so aggressive in the overtime and we have to
concentrate better," Andrei Kirilenko said. "Cuttino played his
game and it's very hard to stop him one-on-one. We have to help out
better as a team."

Greg Ostertag agreed, particularly concerning a driving jumper
Mobley made with 55 seconds left in overtime that gave Houston a
106-99 lead.

"I was so worried about Yao (Ming) at the end, I didn't help
out my teammates," Ostertag said. "I never should have allowed
Mobley to drive to the basket like that."

Coach Jerry Sloan thought the Rockets played tougher in the end.

"It comes down to how tough you want to be," Sloan said. "We
have to learn how to be tougher and we have to defend better at the
end of the game. Houston did what they had to do to win the game."

Eric Piatkowski had five points and Steve Francis made three of
four free throws as the Rockets opened the extra period with a 10-2
run to end a three-game losing streak. Yao had 20 points and
Francis finished with 19.

Matt Harpring and Kirilenko led the Jazz with 19 points apiece.
Aleksandar Pavlovic, subbing for the ill DeShawn Stevenson, had a
career-high 18 points -- 14 in the first quarter -- as the Jazz had
their four-game winning streak snapped.

Ostertag hit two free throws with 28 seconds left in regulation
to put Utah ahead 93-92 before Yao scored on a layup with 17
seconds left. Kirilenko then hit one of two free throws with five
seconds to play to send it into overtime.

The teams went back and forth in the third quarter with three
lead changes and five ties before Utah inched its way to a 71-67
lead entering the fourth.

The Jazz quickly expanded that to an eight-point margin before
Houston went on an 11-0 run to take a 78-75 lead with 7:36
remaining. It was close the rest of the way.

Early in the first quarter Pavlovic scored 10 unanswered points
to lift Utah to a 14-4 lead. Pavlovic scored four more in a 9-0 run
for a 24-10 lead. The Jazz led 28-15 at the quarter break.

Houston outscored Utah 14-4 in a five-minute span to tie the
game at 34 with 4:54 left in the first half. Mobley's two free
throws 1:24 before the half gave Houston its first lead, 40-39.

Mobley had 14, eight in the second quarter, as the Rockets
settled for a 44-43 halftime lead.

Game notes
Houston's Jim Jackson and John Amaechi and Utah's Stevenson
all missed the game with the flu ... Jackson's illness caused the
Rockets to use only their second different starting lineup of the
year as Bostjan Nachbar replaced Jackson. New Orleans and
Sacramento are the only teams to have used the same starting lineup
in every game this season ... The three-game losing streak Houston
brought into the game was its longest since losing four in a row
last Feb. 25-March 4 ... The Jazz dropped to 1-6 on the road ...
This was the first time this season both teams scored 100 or more
in a Rockets game.