JAZZ: Big plays from AK, Memo lift Jazz
Mehmet Okur opened the third quarter with one of his signature three-pointers, like the ones that ignited the crowds at EnergySolutions Arena so many times during the regular season.
And he did it again, and again, making 3 of 4 three-pointers in the early part of the third. The Jazz took their largest lead of the game yet, 11 points, midway through the quarter.
But then they shut down. Came to a screeching halt. Managed just three points in the last 5 1/2 minutes of the third quarter. Scored only five points through the first six minutes of the fourth.
The stretch could've broken them. It nearly did.
How did they pull out of their tailspin?
"In the fourth, we executed," said forward Carlos Boozer, who finished with 22 points and nine rebounds. "We had some big plays go in for us. We got some stops."
Andrei Kirilenko came alive at the end of the game, scoring six of his 14 points in the fourth, and adding immeasurable value on defense with blocks and steals.
The Jazz made more free throws and field goals than Houston. They forced the Rockets into three times as many turnovers.
And, boy, did people notice.
"I was really pleased with the effort our guys put in to win the game," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "I know they had their backs to the wall and they did a fine job."
The Jazz will return to Houston on Saturday for Game 7, hoping to take away the same result as they did in a gritty Game 6. Of course, the Rockets would rather they not.
"They outplayed us down the stretch," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We've got to get on the plane, figure out how to play a little better and play well on Saturday."
Breaking it down
* The Jazz's Mehmet Okur went 3-for-4 from the three-point line to open the second half, and Utah fed off his energy to build an 11-point lead its largest of the game.
* A breakdown followed soon after. The Jazz scored eight points over an 11-minute span in the third and fourth quarters, and Houston cut the lead to one.
* Andrei Kirilenko's hustle, and his offense, helped the Jazz force Game 7, as Utah broke out of its funk just in time to stretch its lead back to a safe margin late in the fourth.