Jazz beat Rockets, force Game 7
Playing at home, a balanced effort from the Utah Jazz defeated the Houston Rockets 94-82, taking Game 6 of the first round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs and forcing a series-deciding Game 7 in Houston.
Although the game's two leading scorers were on Houston, Utah enjoyed contributions from a variety of players and a terrific game from Andrei Kirilenko put them over the top.
For the Jazz, Carlos Boozer (9-of-16) had 22 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists. Mehmet Okur (5-of-11) was on fire from outside, hitting 4-of-7 from 3-point range for 19 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. And Deron Williams (6-of-11) was stellar at the point with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists.
But what put Utah over the top was the inspired play on both ends of the floor by Andrei Kirilenko (6-of-10), who played terrific defense on Tracy McGrady and delivered 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 5 blocks. He played like the AK-47 of a few years ago. The ultra-versatile star. The player Jazz fans have been waiting to show up.
"We're a much better team when AK-47 plays like AK-47," said Boozer after the game. "Today was probably his best game of the season."
For the Rockets, Tracy McGrady scored 26, Yao Ming 25, Rafer Alston 13, but no one else had more than 6.
McGrady (just 8-of-23, plus 9-of-10 free throws) had 26 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 turnovers. Yao Ming (9-of-16) had 25 points but just 6 rebounds, 1 assist and an awful 8 turnovers. Rafer Alston (just 5-of-14) had 13 points, 5 rebounds and just 3 assists. Juwan Howard (3-of-5) had 6 points and 6 rebounds.
Shane Battier was just 1-of-5 for 4 points, 4 assists and 3 steals.
The Jazz as a team shot 48.6%, the Rockets 43.3%. And Utah had the range from outside, hitting 7-of-15 3-pointers, while Houston was off the mark, connecting on just 6-of-21.
Battier had one block, the only rejection for the entire Rockets team.
Homecourt advantage has been key in this series. But Boozer thinks Utah has what it takes to handle the Rockets back in Houston. "In the games that we've played in Houston, we've played well enough to win. We just didn't win. So we take that confidence with us."
"I think both teams are really comfortable at home," said McGrady. "This is probably the loudest building that I've been in, in a playoff series."
"Their crowed kept them in there, and gave them an extra boost."
Game 7 is Saturday in Houston.