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12/3/2003 - Deseret News
Jazz come up short in OT to Rockets
12/2/2003 - Salt Lake Tribune
Opportunity lost on road
12/2/2003 - Houston Chronicle
Rockets regain their touch
12/2/2003 - Houston Chronicle
Even in victory, Rockets not a polished product
12/1/2003 - Houston Chronicle
Francis has score to settle with Jazz
Mobley Tunes Out Jazz
Cuttino scores 32 as Rockets eek out overtime win over Jazz, 107-101
By Clutch

PG Matchup: Steve Francis said he'd be ready for Raul Lopez this time, but the Jazz backup point guard still had 16 points and 9 assists (AP photo)
He was just "on", period. Mobley hit big shots late in the fourth, including a critical three-pointer, and finished 11-18 from the floor and dished more assists (5) than Francis (4).
With Jim Jackson out with the flu, Nachbar got the rare start, but he didn't make much of it (5 points, 5 fouls). What was maddening in particular was his two critical fouls late in the fourth. One was a loose ball foul after a Rocket rebound of a Jazz missed shot with Houston up 3 -- the late call gave the ball back to Utah, and they promptly tied it with a triple.
How they pulled it out I'm not quite sure, but they did.

Down 8 in the fourth quarter, the Rockets used a 9-0 run to get back in to the game which eventually went to overtime, where Eric Piatkowski hit 2 big shots to help the Rockets beat the Jazz 107-101 in Houston Wednesday night.

The win ties the Rockets with the Jazz for third place in the Midwest division at 10-7.

While on paper the Rockets are the more talented team, Utah clearly looked to be the much more intelligent and efficient team, and seemed to work much harder than Houston.

The first quarter saw the Jazz put on a clinic, forcing 9 Rocket turnovers (7 Jazz steals) and racing off to a 23-10 lead that had some well-deserved boos coming down from the rafters at the Toyota Center.

The Rockets made Aleksandar Pavlovic, who was making his first career start, look like Pistol Pete in the first quarter (14 points in the first 10 minutes), and Andrei Kirilenko (19 points, 8 steals, 7 assists, 5 boards, 5 blocks) looked to be going for the NBA's first ever quintuple-double. He did whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.

Cuttino Mobley won this game for the Rockets. Despite coming in to this one shooting 37% in his last 10 games, Mobley busted out to hit 11-18 shots for 32 points. He hit a key three in the Rockets fourth-quarter run and Houston would clearly be walking away with an "L" if not for his hot shooting tonight.

I really liked Piatkowski tonight as well. His long three to start the overtime session really got the Rockets off on the right foot and he finished with a season-high 13 points.

The Rockets relied heavily on Steve Francis isolation drives tonight. While the Jazz used crisp passing to cutters, the Rockets countered with Francis crossovers. Steve's free throw shooting bailed the Rockets out of a few situations, though he missed a costly free throw with less than a minute to go in the fourth. Had it not been for a Kirilenko missed free throw with 5 ticks to go, Francis' shank would have cost Houston the game.

Let me say I wasn't real impressed with Yao Ming tonight either, despite 20 points, 8 boards and a key turnaround jumper in overtime over Greg Ostertag. It's time people realize that while Yao will be the solution for the Rockets, he's also currently part of the problem. At his height and weight, Yao should be cleaning the boards, or at the very least holding on to boards that come in to his hands. He coughed it up 6 times tonight and the Jazz interior defense made him look uncoordinated and clumsy a lot.

Oh, and a pump fake every now and then would be nice. Yes, that's Kirilenko. Coming to block you weak side. Again. Might want to pick up on that.

Lastly, memo to Jazz announcer "Hot Rod" Hundley: Please practice pronouncing "YOW" 1000 times before the next Rockets-Jazz game. Constantly referring to the center as "Big YAW" makes you sound like a cow rancher or an East German English student. I can't decide which.

A win is a win, and I'll most certainly take it, but despite 50% shooting tonight from the Rockets, it's evident they have numerous problems on offense. Does Jeff Van Gundy believe he has the right cast of characters to make this team work? Only time will tell.

Clutch can be reached at and also can be followed on Twitter