HOUSTON Tracy McGrady tried to take matters in his own hands.
Ultimately, though, it was a collection of Jazz mitts that played a part Monday night in Utah's 90-84 Game 2 first-round NBA playoffs victory over the Houston Rockets.
There were the hands of starting point guard Deron Williams, who delivered a team-high 22 points and 8-of-15 shooting from the field.
"Deron Williams," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said the Jazz took a 2-0 lead in the series that resumes Thursday night in Utah, "really hurt us in the last six minutes of the game."
There were those of starting center Mehmet Okur, who produced a 16-point, 16-rebound double-double.
There were those belonging to backup point Ronnie Price, who hit two key 3-pointers, and starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko, who came up with the rebound of the game.
The most critical, however, may be those belonging to backup shooting guard Kyle Korver.
He didn't actually have the hot hand, finishing just 1-for-4 from the field.
But the Jazz sharpshooter made the one that arguably mattered most, a 16-foot jumper with 20.2 seconds remaining that put Utah up 87-82 and deflated what slim hopes the Rockets had of tying the best-of-series at 1-1.
Korver missed the first shot he took on the possession, smacking a jumper from the right corner off the side of the backboard.
Kirilenko, though, got the rebound and returned the ball to Korver, who barely beat the shot clock.
"The (first) shot felt pretty good," Korver said. "But, I mean, it was pretty good defense the backboard got in the way.
"It's a little embarrassing," he added, "but we got it back and it ended up going in, so we'll take it."
Kirilenko had no idea how little time was left on the shot clock when he made his pass.
"To be honest, I (didn't) see we had short clock," he said. "I get the rebound and try to pass off, and just save the ball and the game, and I pass to Kyle, and he shoot it, and I'm like, 'Ought, oh.'
"I see the ball went in," Kirilenko added, "and I'm like, 'Thank you, pal.'"
The Jazz had Kirilenko to thank for his work on Houston's preceding possession, which ended with a foul on Rockets forward Luis Scola which negated a 3-pointer from guard Bobby Jackson that would have tied the game at 85.
"It wasn't that huge (of a) foul, but Scola is holding me. I created a little bit more than it looks, but it was foul," Kirilenko said. "Let's say 50-50, but it was foul. In this situation, that's the right call. Because I was trying to get to McGrady in the corner, and Scola was just holding me."
Rockets coach Adelman, to say the least, was a bit miffed.
"Trying to get me fined," he said when asked about the play. "You can't say anything. You can't. All I can say is, you look at that play and ... he (Scola) put his hand on Kirilenko's shoulder.
"Kirilenko fell back like a truck just hit him, and you're going to make that call at that time of this game with just six seconds before Luis went to the basket and he got hammered? I have a really hard time with that."83 comments on this story
Rockets All-Star McGrady, meanwhile, finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
But in the fourth quarter he had just one point and 0-for-4 field shooting, plus a missed free throw and a critical turnover.
"It's tough for him, because we really concentrate on him," Kirilenko said. "We really double-team, we really look for him."
Got to hand it to the Jazz, McGrady suggested.
"I'm pretty tired," he said. "Fourth quarter, I didn't have anything. It's tough, man, banging with these guys."It is what it is," McGrady added with regard to the loss, which included Houston trailing at halftime for the ninth time in nine Jazz-Rockets playoff games dating back to last year's series win by Utah. "There's nothing I can do about it but go out there and do what I did tonight and lead my team. I just fell short. I don't care about the criticism."