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NBA Game Summary - Utah at Houston

(Sunday, January 2nd)

Final Score: Houston 99, Utah 80

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Tracy McGrady scored 25 points and Bob Sura contributed 24 points and 10 rebounds, as the Houston Rockets defeated the Utah Jazz, 99-80, at the Toyota Center.

"Defense," said McGrady of what gave the Rockets the victory. "Intensity. We stayed focus and stayed with our game plan, not giving those guys any confidence."

Yao Ming had 15 points and Juwan Howard collected 14 points and 12 boards for Houston, which has won three in a row and seven of its last 10 contests. Yao sat out the previous game against Milwaukee with the flu, marking the first time in his NBA career that he had missed a contest.

Gordan Giricek paced Utah with 15 points. Carlos Boozer finished with 14 points for the Jazz, who have dropped five straight and 15 of their last 18 games.

Keith McLeod's basket 16 seconds into the third quarter gave the Jazz a four- point lead. Houston then countered with a 23-4 burst to grab a 67-52 advantage with 5:45 remaining in the period. Sura netted seven points during the run and David Wesley capped it with a three-pointer.

The Rockets eventually held a 76-65 lead after 36 minutes and were not threatened in the fourth quarter. Houston would stretch the margin to as many as 23 points in the period at 97-74 on a tip-in by Dikembe Mutombo with 3:38 remaining.

The Rockets closed the first quarter with an 8-0 run, keyed by six points from McGrady, to take a 26-23 lead.

Utah then scored the first seven points of the second period to move in front 30-26. After the teams traded baskets, Houston went on a 7-0 run, capped by Sura's three-pointer, to regain a three-point edge.

"We need a third scorer besides Yao and Tracy," said Sura. "Tonight it was me, other nights it will be other guys. I came out early and was able to get that first basket, and that lay-up propelled me."

Mehmet Okur then countered with a three-pointer to tie the contest and the rest of the quarter stayed tight. The Jazz carried a 46-44 advantage into the locker room.

Giricek led Utah in the first half with 11 points. McGrady had 14 points and Sura added 13 in the opening 24 minutes for the Rockets.

Game Notes

Sura also had five steals and four assists...McLeod, Okur and Matt Harpring each scored 12 points for the Jazz. Okur also pulled down eight rebounds...Houston's Maurice Taylor was ejected early in the fourth quarter after picking up his second technical foul for his role in a scuffle...The Rockets (16-15) are over .500 for the first time this season...Prior to the game, the Rockets activated guard Andre Barrett and forward Ryan Bowen from the injured list and placed forward Clarence Weatherspoon on the IL with a calf injury.

01/03 00:16:39 ET

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