Millsap steps up as Jazz survive in OT
The Utah Jazz understand how to finish games. It's the starts that need some work.
''It shows we've got a lot of heart, and we've got a lot of guys who don't want to lose on this team,'' said Millsap, who scored 11 in the fourth quarter. ''But we've got to focus in and get off to better starts if we want to progress through this season.''
Deron Williams went 5 for 16 from the field but dished out 15 assists.
The Jazz mustered only 19 points in each of the first two quarters and trailed by 14 at halftime. Utah then held Houston to 13 field goals the rest of the way to close the gap.
''We played a lot harder defensively in the second half,'' Williams said. ''We took a step forward as a team. In the second half, we got after them more and didn't let them get easy baskets.''
''Same problems we were having early in the season, we have now,'' Scola said. ''It's frustrating. We deserved to win this game, but we didn't know how to close it out.''
Millsap scored only four points through the first three quarters, then led Utah's final push in the fourth. He hit two free throws and scored three baskets inside to tie it 86-all with 1:29 left. He was fouled by Brad Miller on a layup and made the free throw to give the Jazz their first lead.
Millsap hit nine of his last 12 shots after starting 2 for 8.
''They were leaving me open and Deron was getting me the ball,'' Millsap said. ''We all get a feeling like that every now and then, where you feel like you're not going to miss.''
Utah led 89-87 when Martin hit a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left to tie it again. Millsap missed an off-balance jumper and Shane Battier rebounded with 2.8 seconds remaining.
The Jazz knocked the ball away from Martin and out of bounds with 0.2 showing on the clock. Kyle Lowry missed a desperation shot as regulation time expired.
Millsap swished three straight jumpers from the free throw line in the extra period to give Utah control. Scola flipped in a hook shot with 34 seconds to go, but Millsap sneaked inside for a layup to put the game away.
''I don't want to be disrespectful to them,'' Scola said of Utah. ''I really, really respect their team. But I believe today's game, it was all on us.''
The Rockets went 3 for 25 from 3-point range and shot 38 percent (34 of 90) overall.
At the start, the Jazz sputtered offensively, missing 13 of their first 18 shots. Utah came in averaging 22.9 points in the first quarter, 28th in the NBA.
Scola scored 10 points in the opening quarter and the Rockets went up 27-19.
Utah continued to miss shots in the second quarter, starting 2 for 7 from the field and giving away two turnovers in the first 5 minutes.
Utah shot 41 percent (16 of 39) from the field and went 1 for 9 from 3-point range in the first half to trail 52-38 at the break.
Jefferson scored the first five points of the second half while the Rockets came out cold, missing six of their first seven shots.
Jefferson scored 14 points in the third quarter and the Jazz trailed only 67-64 heading to the fourth. Houston went 4 for 20 from the field in the third.
Williams sank his first 3-pointer with 6:47 left to cut Houston's lead to 78-73. Scola scored twice in the next minute to push the lead back to nine, but the Rockets scored only seven points over the final 5 minutes of regulation.
Notes: The Jazz trailed by at least 10 points at halftime for the 12th time this season. ... Utah improved to 18-1 this season when scoring 100 points. ... Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks sat out for the third straight game with a left ankle sprain. ... Martin has scored at least 20 points in 14 of his last 17 games.