Analysis: Jazz 94, Rockets 82 (Game 6)
- Another low-scoring affair in an overlooked series where defense was the name of the game. The Jazz held the Rockets to 43% and got a redeeming performance from Kirilenko on both ends of the floor.
-Kirilenko had his finest all-around game & was Utah's MVP tonite. Not only did he do a superb job roving around on defense (he came out of nowhere for a few blocks), but made TMac work for his looks when matched up on him. But AK47 was not just about defense tonite, he recaptured his old stat-sheet stuffer mojo by doing a little of everything--14 pts, 5 rebs, 4 assts, 5 blks, & 3 stls. AK47 had only scored 15 total pts in Games 1-5.
-Boozer showcased his impeccable footwork in mixing up his looks vs. Yao. And he uses his off-hand as well as any big to finish near the rim. Booze was his typical efficient self--22 on 9/16 & 9 rebs. Memo Okur came up big with some key long-range makes specifically in the 3rd--Okur was 4/6 from 3pt for 19 pts. Okur had been really struggling with his shot--4/25 in the 1st 5 games & only 8.4 ppg after averaging 17 ppg for the season. Deron is very adept at step-back jumpers, something I noticed earlier in the year. If he can find more consistency on his deep ball, he could be looking at annual All-Star Game weekends.
-Jazz defense was excellent tonite. They deflected a lot of balls tonite and had something to do with Houston's 19 TOs. Their defense has been pretty good all series--Houston's only shooting 39.5% for the series. Not that surprised, at their core they are a solid defensive team. The issue that hurts them is they just foul too much. Some teams foul too much because they are out of position or slow on rotations, but the Jazz foul too much because they are so physical. But in the playoffs their style is given a little bit more leeway.
-Rockets could not find the range from deep like in Game 5, and in turn, their offense could not get any continuity going. McGrady was doing a little of everything--driving, posting, shooting. But he really had to work for his looks all nite, thanks in most part because of AK47. TMac finished 26 on 8/23, 10 rebs & 5 TOs. Yao was pretty nice scoring in the low post all game--25 on 9/16--but he had an issues with turnovers (8). The Rockets had 19 TOs on the nite. Alston was the only other Rocket who brought something to the table on offense with 13 pts, and the only Rocket who could hit from outside.
- The Jazz have a great shot in Game 7. They have played the Rockets tough in Houston 3 times already. They are going to need a repeat performance from AK47 and Okur needs to hit from outside again. For the Rockets, I think they are going to have hit their outside jumpers like in Game 5 because I bet the Jazz will try to get the ball out of TMac's hands.