7:00 PM ET, February 19, 2012
Toyota Center, Houston, TX
HOUSTON -- With each 3-pointer Kyle Lowry hit on Sunday night, his confidence grew.
By the fourth quarter, he felt as if he'd make any shot he took.
And he almost did.
Utah cut Houston's double-digit lead to just two points with a big fourth quarter run, before an 8-2 spurt by the Rockets stretched their lead to 88-80 with four minutes left.
Lowry started Houston's game-clinching run when he scored Houston's first points in almost four minutes with a 3-pointer and Courtney Lee hit a 3 as he was knocked to the ground on a foul by C.J. Miles. Lee was unable to complete the rare four-point play when his free throw attempt rattled off the rim.
"I hit my first couple and kind of got going," Lowry said. "When you have one of those rhythms and your legs are feeling good and you're just confident in your shot, I feel I can make it anywhere, anytime, anyplace."
Lee hoped some of Lowry's hot shooting would transfer to him.
"I didn't have the shooting touch, Kyle had the shooting touch. I shook his hand when I checked in and it kind of rubbed off on me," joked Lee, who was two of three from 3-point range.
Devin Harris made a pair of free throws for Utah after that. But Houston scored eight straight points, with six from Scola, to extend the lead to 96-82 two minutes later to secure the win.
"Our guys were really in tune," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "We really have to be in tune. We can't just walk out there and act like we don't know what we're doing. We have to show up there with an edge."
Al Jefferson, who was coming off a season-high 34-point performance on Friday, led the Jazz with 23 points and 11 rebounds. He had a pain in his stomach that sent him to the bench at the end of the game, but said afterwards that he was OK.
"I was very disappointed in our play and my own play," he said. "We have to do a better job."
The Rockets were up by 13 points with nine minutes remaining before Utah used an 11-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Raja Bell, to get within 80-78 with 5:45 left. Paul Millsap had two baskets and four free throws for Utah's other points in that span.
"We got it down to two points in the fourth, then we didn't make shots ... and things got away from us," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. "We just didn't have enough to finish."
Lowry's 32 points were one point shy of his season high of 33. His seven 3s ties a career high, he was 7 of 7 on free throws and had nine assists as the Rockets improved to 2-1 on what will be a six-game homestand.
Samuel Dalembert wowed the crowd with a pair of dunks. The second one came on an alley-oop from Lowry that capped an 11-5 run that broke a tie and left the Rockets ahead 69-63 with about a minute left in the third quarter.
Harris had turnovers on consecutive plays to slow the Jazz at the start of that run.
Derrick Favors hit one of two free throws for the Jazz before Lee knocked down a 3-pointer on the other end to stretch Houston's lead to 72-64 entering the fourth quarter.
Millsap added 22 points for Utah and Bell had 11.
Lowry made all of the five shots he attempted in the first half, including four 3-pointers. He was also perfect from the free throw line, making each of his four first-half attempts.
The 6-foot Lowry missed his first shot of the second half on an attempt under the basket against two much bigger defenders, but quickly got back on track with his next shot. He was fouled as he made a jump shot and completed the 3-point play to leave the Rockets up 54-50 with 9½ minutes left in the third quarter.
The Jazz led 46-45 at halftime.
Houston's Greg Smith made his NBA debut on Sunday after being recalled from Rio Grande Valley of the D-League earlier in the day. He had four blocks, three rebounds and two points, but also picked up five fouls in less than 12 minutes.
Smith was recalled from the D-League after F Jordan Hill injured his right knee in practice on Saturday. Hill is expected to be out at least two weeks. ... Rockets C Hasheem Thabeet did not dress for Sunday's game because of a sore lower back. ... The Jazz shot 39.5 percent on Sunday to improve the Rockets record to 6-0 this season when they limit teams to less than 40 percent shooting.
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 19: Chase Budinger #10 of the Houston Rockets shoots the ball against the Utah Jazz on...(Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||32-81 (.395)||37-72 (.514)|
|3PM-3PA||5-14 (.357)||10-19 (.526)|
|FTM-FTA||16-20 (.800)||17-24 (.708)|
|Fast Break Points||7||9|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||23 (0/0)||20 (0/0)|
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