Hold the Houston Rockets to 75 points, you're supposed to win.

      Unless you shoot 39.2 percent from the field, commit 16 turnovers and score a franchise-low 72 points yourselves.Unless you're the Utah Jazz, in other words.

      Not since Oct. 17, 1974, in the franchise's first-ever game, with a team of guys like Bud Stallworth and Aaron James and Stu Lantz, has a Jazz team scored in this neighborhood. And that squad totaled 74 points.

      Monday night's game at the Delta Center was heralded as a display of five Dream Teamers, five guys who made the NBA's list of the 50 greatest players of all-time. They all showed up, but this was more nightmare than dream. The Rockets racked up 22 turnovers and shot 38.7 percent from the field.

      People competing for prizes at halftime have shot higher percentages than that.

      Some tried to tell us this was a clash of two great defenses. Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said it, as did the Rockets' Charles Barkley. But don't you believe them. These teams are capable of great defense, and even played some at times, but the poor shooting was mostly just that - poor shooting. The Jazz, in particular, had a lot of open shots they simply missed.

      To their credit, Jazz players were more realistic.

      "We played like crap," said Utah guard Jeff Hornacek. "So did they, for that matter."

      The difference?

      "They're probably walking around their locker room saying `As bad as we played, we came out with a W,' which is what we would have liked to have said," Hornacek said.

      That's sort of what the Rockets were saying.

      "Two really good teams played, and we found a way to win," Barkley said. "That was playoff basketball and we both wanted to win and send each other a message."

      What this looked most like was a contest between two teams playing their third game in four days - which it was. Both teams experienced moments of good play, at least one long stretch of miserable play, and a lot of mediocre play.

      "We just started hanging out," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, "and we're not good enough to hang out."

      The game opened with the Rockets exploiting the Hakeem Olajuwon vs. Greg Ostertag mismatch. Olajuwon scored eight points in eight minutes against the Jazz youngster, and when Olajuwon finally sat down for a breather, veteran Kevin Willis came in and went around Ostertag for a layup, too.

      John Stockton, meanwhile, was making Rockets' rookie point guard Matt Maloney look bad. Stockton scored seven points in eight minutes of the first quarter.

      Utah tried to pull away in the second quarter, opening with a 10-2 run. The fans got into it when Chris Morris (remember him?) had one of his rare spurts, scoring six straight points, stuffing an Olajuwon shot and making a steal in traffic.

      The score was 37-30 Jazz at halftime, and Utah led by as much as 12 in the third quarter. But in the final period, the Jazz were stinko. They made three of 21 shots - 14.3 percent. Only Greg Foster and Stockton made field goals in the quarter.

      Despite all that, the Jazz led for most of the period and were still up 72-71 with 26 seconds left after Foster made a reverse layup in front of Olajuwon.

      But Barkley slipped away from Karl Malone on the other end for a dunk, and Foster was tied up by Olajuwon while trying to make another layup. Olajuwon tipped the jump ball to teammate Mario Elie, who was fouled and made two free throws. The Jazz had one last chance, with three seconds left, but Hornacek's three - not unpredictably - rimmed out.

      So how poorly did individual Jazz players shoot? Here's the worst: Carr, 1 for 7; Adam Keefe, 0 for 3; Hornacek, 3 for 11; Foster and Bryon Russell, 3 for 9 each.

      Malone led the Jazz with 16 points (7 of 13 shots) and 14 rebounds. Stockton finished with 14 points, four assists.

      Looking at the stats in general, the only team number that stands out is free throws. The Rockets attempted 32 foul shots, the Jazz just 11. Even considering that Houston had a one-superstar edge, that's a big difference.

      The Jazz get four days off now, then face the Rockets again on Saturday in Houston.