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
"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
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.''
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.
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.