Tracy McGrady came alive just in time to help Yao Ming(
Yao had 28 points and 13 rebounds and McGrady scored 22 of his 23 points in the second half as the Rockets took the lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series.
Rafer Alston collected nine points, 11 rebounds and eight assist for Houston, which overcame a poor 39-percent shooting effort.
The Rockets trailed 42-33 at halftime, largely because of the lack of offensive production by McGrady.
The Jazz held him to just one point on 0-for-6 shooting -- a career postseason first-half low.
However, McGrady regained his All-Star form in the third period, scoring 16 points -- highlighted by a deep pull-up jumper from the top of the key with 10 seconds left to cap an 18-4 burst and help Houston take a 59-53 lead into the final quarter.
Utah pulled within 65-63 on Matt Harpring's driving layup at the 8:27 mark. But the Rockets pulled away for good as Alston and Luther Head hit back-to-back 3-pointers, sparking an impressive 15-3 surge to push the lead to 80-66 with 3:33 remaining.
Two quick 3-pointers by Derek Fisher helped Utah cut the deficit to 80-74 with 32 seconds left, but McGrady split a pair of free throws to seal the victory.
All-Star Carlos Boozer struggled with just 11 points but did pull down 12 rebounds for the Jazz, who fell to 13-14 all-time in the postseason against the Rockets.
Sudanese-born forward Luol Deng scored 33 points and Ben Gordon added 24 to lead the Chicago Bulls over the defending champion Miami Heat 96-91 here on Saturday in an Eastern Conference playoff opener.
Deng, now a British citizen, scored back-to-back baskets, the last a three-point play, to give the Bulls a 92-83 lead with 1:51 left.
Miami answered with the next eight points, but Gordon and Argentina's Andres Nocioni, who finished with 17 points, each hit two late free throws to hold off the Heat.
In another best-of-seven Eastern Conference series opener, Richard Jefferson scored 28 points and former Toronto star Vince Carter added 16 to spark New Jersey past Toronto 96-91. Each series will continue tomorrow.
The Bulls had a game-high 14 rebounds by Ben Wallace and a game-high 11 assists from Gordon.
With Chicago clinging to a 92-91 lead, it was Wallace who tapped a rebound to Deng that led to Gordon's key free throws.
After Dwyane Wade, Miami's top scorer with 21 points, missed a 3-pointer, the Heat fouled Nocioni and the South American star sank two free throws with 9.8 seconds remaining to create the final victory margin.
Shaquille O'Neal had 19 points and six rebounds but had fouled out by the final dramatics as the defending champions, weakened by injuries all season, proved vulnerable to the new generation of the team Michael Jordan led to six NBA titles in the 1990s.
At Toronto, Carter made only five of 16 shots as Raptors supporters booed their former hero, but he went on to score nine points in the fourth quarter to help the Nets capture the first game of their series.
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Coming from the business world, New York Liberty owner Joe Tsai (蔡崇信) did not understand why his WNBA franchise did not have a chief executive officer similar to the team’s NBA counterpart the Brooklyn Nets, which Tsai also owns. For Tsai, it was about equality, so he did something about it. The 56-year-old Taipei-born billionaire businessman and philanthropist promoted Keia Clarke to the position last week — making her the first chief executive officer in the team’s history. The WNBA veteran became the third black woman to currently be in charge of a franchise in the league, joining Los Angeles Sparks president
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
MONEY MATTERS: While COVID-19 played a major role in the decision, the CTBA also found it hard to secure sponsorship, and ticket sales would have been affected The Yonex Taipei Open badminton tournament has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a funding shortfall, the CTBA said yesterday. This was the first time that the tournament, a Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour Super 300-level competition, has been canceled since it began in 1980. The Taipei Open has been held annually since 1980. The tournament was to be played at the Taipei Arena from Sept. 1 to Sept. 6, with total prize money of US$500,000. The CTBA said that it was deeply concerned about whether the Taipei Open would proceed as scheduled after the BWF announced changes