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Rockets 140, Jazz 126

SALT LAKE CITY, April 29 -- Kenny Smith figured he was just doing what he was supposed to, but it was more than enough to bury the Utah Jazz. Smith scored a career playoff-high 32 points and Clyde Drexler added 30 Saturday night in helping the Houston Rockets turn a record barrage of three-pointers into a 140-126 rout of the Jazz that evened the opening round best-of-five Western Conference series at one game apiece. Smith made seven three-pointers and Drexler scored eight points during a 13-0 run to open the second half for the Rockets, who made an NBA playoff-record 19 three-pointers. The previous mark was 12, set by the Phoenix Suns against Houston last May 11. '(They were) open shots you're supposed to knock down,' said Smith, who shot 7-of-8 from three-point range. 'My high school coach told me to be a player in this league, you don't have to hit the great shots, just the open ones, and I was just trying to stay in character.' Hakeem Olajuwon chipped in with 27 points and Robert Horry 21 for the defending NBA champion Rockets, who eliminated the Jazz in six games in last season's Western Conference finals. The series shifts to Houston for the next two games, beginning Wednesday night. Karl Malone scored 28 points and 17 rebounds and Jeff Hornacek scored 21 points for the Jazz, who were outscored 39-21 in the decisive third quarter. 'At the start of the third quarter, our defense failed again,' Utah Coach Jerry Sloan said.

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'We weren't ready to get up and play them. They came down and shot three or four three-pointers and bang, they put us in the hole right away. 'This team (Houston) is a championship team, they know how to come out and play.' Houston led 69-64 at halftime before embarking on its decisive run for an 82-64 advantage. The Rockets extended their lead to 108-85 after three quarters. 'You just get yourself ready to play and do what you've been doing all season,' Drexler said. 'The ball just happened to go in. It was a great team effort. We were hitting the open man and it feels great when you play well.' The Rockets opened a 61-44 lead with 5:02 left in the second quarter, but the Jazz used a 15-2 burst over the next 2:48 to close to 63-59. Stockton led the charge with five points, but Utah would get no closer. The Rockets, who shot 60 percent from the field (51-of-85), played without guard Vernon Maxwell, who had returned to Houston to have a strained left hamstring examined.

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