JAZZ NOTES: Only four Rockets score in the game
The Jazz came close to setting a record by allowing the Houston Rockets to score only one more point than their all-time low, in an 81-67 victory in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series at EnergySolutions Arena on Thursday.
And the 10 points they allowed in the third quarter only seemed like a record.
But the Jazz did make history with their rugged defense, allowing only four Rockets - Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Shane Battier and Rafer Alston - to score in the game. That had never happened in an NBA playoff game.
"We had a great team defensive game," forward Matt Harpring said.
The last time a team allowed only four opposing players to score in even a regular-season game was more than a half-century ago, when the Philadelphia Warriors beat the Minneapolis Lakers 88-82 on Jan. 13, 1952 and allowed only George Mikan, Vern Mikkelsen, Jim Pollard and Slater Martin - all now members of the Hall of Fame - to score.
"On our part, our offense was terrible," McGrady said.
Off the pace
The Jazz's Deron Williams was a distant third in voting for the NBA's Most Improved Player Award announced Thursday.
Golden State's Monta Ellis edged Sacramento's Kevin Martin for the honor in the closest vote in history - 352 points to 344, in a vote of sportswriters and broadcasters - while Williams received 101 points. Willliams increased his scoring average from 10.8 points per game to 16.2 during the regular season this year, and more than doubled his assists to 9.3 per game. He scored 11 points in Game 3, with eight assists and seven rebounds.
Gordan Giricek led the Jazz reserves with 13 points, including a three-pointer with 10:25 left that gave the Jazz a 64-52 lead, and signaled their survival of a troublesome third quarter.
"You just have to play through it," he said. "Probably, the sixth player was the crowd, and they gave us help. They gave us great lift and energy, and luckily we didn't spill the milk . . . like in Houston."
Carlos Boozer scored a career-high 41 points for the Jazz in Game 2, and afterward said he felt obligated to carry the team after struggling in Game 1.
But the All-Star forward said he did not feel as if he has to continue shouldering the burden for the Jazz, even though many of his teammates have had a hard time playing their best.
"I just play," he said at the pre-game shootaround. "Whatever happens, happens. We go out there, we play hard. I think everybody's going to hit their shots tonight. Being at home will help, the game will be at a regular time - not an hour and a half later, or so. So I just go out there and play."
Boozer wound up leading the Jazz with 22 points and 12 rebounds, improving his playoff averages to 24.7 points and 12.0 rebounds per game.