Final

Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/23

Game 1: Monday, December 23rd
Jazz96Final
Rockets91
Game 2: Tuesday, February 11th
Jazz103Final
OT
Rockets101
Game 3: Wednesday, February 12th
Rockets106Final
Jazz76
Game 4: Wednesday, April 9th
Rockets73Final
Jazz94

Jazz 96

 

Rockets 91

 

    Coverage: KJZZ

    7:30 PM ET, December 23, 2002

    1 2 3 4 T
    UTAH 20 16 31 2996
    HOU 23 20 25 2391

    Top Performers

    Utah: K. Malone 31 Pts, 9 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl

    Houston: S. Francis 26 Pts, 2 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Stl

    Rockets can't slow Malone, who scores 31 in win

    HOUSTON (AP) -- The Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets decided to play the last few minutes of their game Monday night with minimal lighting.

    Karl Malone
    Malone

    The Rockets may regret the decision.

    Karl Malone scored six of his 31 points in the last 1:30 to help the Jazz come back from a seven-point deficit and beat the Rockets 96-91. The last 2:49 was played with limited light after an area thunderstorm knocked out the lights at Compaq Arena. After a brief delay, both teams agreed to finish the game under the darkened conditions.

    "I wanted to play with the lights like that,'' said Malone, who scored 10 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter. "It was kind of like when I was a little boy growing up and playing outside when the sun was about to go down. You just keep wanting to get one more shot before the sun sets because you're supposed to be home before dark.''

    Malone added a game-high nine rebounds, two steals and six assists as the Jazz won their third straight. The 39-year-old also provided Utah with some energy when it needed it most.

    "We went through a stretch where our energy level was down a little,'' Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "But fortunately, we got that back at the right time. It's amazing when you expect a guy nearly 40 years old to provide energy for you but he did.''

    Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich agreed.

    "Malone was just phenomenal down the stretch,'' Tomjanovich said. "You've got to give him credit. We tried to take away their layups but Malone wound up having to shoot outside shots. He did a great job for them tonight.''

    Matt Harpring added eight of his 25 points for the Jazz in the final quarter. Steve Francis had 26 points and Yao Ming added 18 points and seven rebounds for Houston.

    James Posey, who came over in the three-team trade with the Nuggets and 76ers on Wednesday, got his first steal and first basket as a Rocket with 48 seconds left in the first quarter.

    It gave Houston its biggest lead of the half at 23-17. Eddie Griffin scored 11 of his 13 points in the first quarter, and the Rockets held a 23-20 lead entering the second.

    The lead changed hands four times and the game was tied once in the second quarter before Yao scored five straight and Francis hit a 3-point buzzer-beater for a 43-36 halftime lead -- Houston's biggest lead of the game.

    With Francis scoring 10 points, the Rockets led by as many as seven twice in the third quarter. But Malone poured in 14 points and Harpring added 11, including a 3 with one second left, to make it 68-67 at the end of the quarter.

    Game notes


    When the lights went out, the game was stopped for three minutes. The scoreboard also went out and was not restored for another three minutes while the game went on. ... The Rockets' 10-3 record at home is their best since starting 13-2 in 1998-99. ... The Jazz, who beat Memphis 103-74 Sunday, are 3-4 in the second of back-to-back games. ... Andrei Kirilenko had to go to the locker room with 7:07 to play in the second quarter when he got a scratch under his right eye. He returned to the bench with 2:30 to play in the half after receiving five stitches. He went back in the game with 3:48 left in the third quarter.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    UTAH
    HOU
    Points 96 91
    FGM-FGA 38-74 (.514) 35-65 (.538)
    3PM-3PA 2-9 (.222) 4-15 (.267)
    FTM-FTA 18-20 (.900) 17-17 (1.000)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-30 5-24
    Assists 31 21
    Turnovers 16 22
    Steals 14 9
    Blocks 7 5
    Fast Break Points 2 5
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 21 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Utah
    Houston
    Karl Malone Malone
    Points: 31
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Steve Francis Francis
    Points: 26
    Reb: 2
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0