Houston • The Jazz's playoff chances took a major hit Sunday. But Utah forward Paul Millsap just kept on ticking.
Returning to the lineup after missing five consecutive games due to left knee tendinitis, Millsap was as deadly as he has been all season. He totaled 35 points 17 during the fourth quarter 10 rebounds and enough late-game inspiration to momentarily keep the Jazz alive.
"Tremendous," said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin following the Jazz's 110-108 loss to the Houston Rockets.
"He did a great job on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively. We need him in there, and he did a good job for us, leading us a little bit. It's great to have him back," Corbin said.
Millsap's knee held up well, allowing him to play more than 38 minutes and drop in 24 four points on 8-of-11 shooting during the second half. But while his statistical line and overall output ranked among his best of the season, the no-quit iron man could only focus on his team's loss.
"I felt pretty good out there. Guys were finding me and I was knocking down shots," Millsap said. "But at the end of the day, all that doesn't matter. We still didn't win the game."
Just because Houston's Kevin Martin was an unbreakable free-throw machine does not mean that the Jazz intended to allow him to secure the contest single-handedly.
Martin sank all 18 of his free throws during the game, including 10 in the final 37 seconds. The first of the final 10 came with Utah trailing 100-96. The last arrived as Houston led 108-103 with 14 seconds to go.
"We tried to deny [him]," Corbin said. "And to their credit, they know he can make 'em. And he did a good job of coming to the ball and we just couldn't keep it out of his hands. He's 18 for 18, so you can see why they gave it to him."
The Jazz's Millsap, Devin Harris, Andrei Kirilenko, Francisco Elson and Ronnie Price were all healthy enough to play against the Rockets after originally being game-time decisions due to lingering injuries. â¦ Kirilenko played just 18 seconds during the final quarter but said his back was not bothering him. He said he thought Corbin held him out as a precautionary measure. â¦ Houston starting small forward Chase Budinger suffered a sprained left ankle early during the second quarter and did not return to the game.