" TARGET="_blank">Jazz vs. Rockets boxscore
HOUSTON — The Utah Jazz were a long ways away from South Beach, but Paul Millsap went into Miami mode Saturday night.
Granted, he didn't score 46 points. And there wasn't a flurry of 3-point swishes or a dramatic win over Carlos Arroyo and his Heat sidekicks.
But Millsap's outburst at the Toyota Center was nearly as impressive.
And like Miami in November, the Rockets got Millslapped — as some fondly call his occasional offensive explosions — while the Jazz stormed off with a come-from-behind victory in overtime.
The power forward detonated for 23 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter and OT, tore a hole deep in the heart of this Texas team that led by as many as 16 and carried the Jazz to the 103-99 win.
That, by the way, is more than Chuck Norris did Saturday night.
"Paul had some unbelievable finish the way he shot the ball coming down the stretch," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said.
This Millsap masterpiece also helped Utah (25-13) snap a two-game skid and rally out of a double-digit deficit for the 12th time this season.
"I think we all get a feeling like that every now and then, and you feel like you're not going to miss," Millsap said. "And I had a great feeling tonight."
He should have.
Millsap, after only scoring four points in the first three quarters while bothered by his right hip a bit, hit all six shots in overtime and went 9-for-12 from the field after the third quarter while mixing his powerful drives with his soft mid-range jumper off the pick-and-roll.
"D-will got him the basketball so he could do something with it," Sloan said, "and obviously that was a huge part of us being able to win the game. ... It was terrific."
Along with Millsap's madness, Al Jefferson (24 points, 13 rebounds) and Deron Williams (14 points, 15 assists) had especially strong second-half showings.
Their late-game revival helped save what could have been a disastrous loss and their first three-game losing streak after back-to-back blowouts to Atlanta and Memphis.
Utah struggled out of the locker room yet again, only scoring 19 points in each of the first two quarters and stumbling to a double-digit deficit at halftime for the 12th time in 38 games this season.
The final 29 minutes (OT included) were a complete reversal from the opening half, though.
"I thought they fought back after we stumbled here a little bit lately," Sloan said. "I thought it was good to see 'em fight back and get into a groove to win a ballgame. That's all you can do to try to work through tough times when it gets that way."
Jefferson went all Millsap on the Rockets in the third quarter, scoring 14 points on a variety of shots, including a sweet one-handed turnaround, a power dunk and a jumper.
That got the Jazz back into it — as Utah only trailed by three at the end of three — and cleared space for Millsap.
"Paul and Al came out strong in the second half. ... They shot the ball in rhythm," Sloan said. "That helps both sides of the ledger when that happens if one guy's going and the other guy's going to get some kind of decent looks, and Al got some inside and that makes a big difference."
Meanwhile, Houston went cold while missing 16 of 20 field-goal attempts in the third quarter when momentum clearly switched squads.
"We played a lot harder defensively in the second half," Williams said. "We took a step forward as a team. We played crappy in the first half and we were able to turn it around."
And vice-versa for the Rockets, who fell to 16-21 with their fifth loss in a row.
"It's frustrating," said Houston forward Luis Scola, who topped the Rockets with 24 points and 10 rebounds. "We deserved to win this game, but we just didn't know how to close it."
The Jazz did, and the closing specialists offered an up-close-and personal-lesson on how to finish off teams.
Scola gave Houston an 82-73 lead with under six minutes to go when Millsap got started with a couple of free throws.
Raja Bell interrupted his shooting spree with a 3-pointer, but then Millsap scored seven consecutive points for the Jazz. With 1:29 remaining, he actually gave Utah its first lead in four games at 87-86 with an old-fashioned three-point play.
Millsap missed a potential game-winner near the end of regulation before scoring 12 of the Jazz's 14 points in the clinching overtime.
"You see the rim get bigger," Millsap added about his night. "And everything just starts going your way."
Fittingly, Millsap rebounded a Houston miss and ended up with the ball in his hands at the end of the game.
Millsap, who was referred to by teammates as Miss Bettye's son after his Miami heroics, got razzed in the locker room again while being called "The Legend" and "The Matrix."
For Millsap, it was infinitely better than being called inactive, which he was a few days earlier due to his bruised right hip.25 comments on this story
Millsap played through that pain to score 20 in the loss at Memphis on Friday, and gutted through soreness again when the Jazz needed him the most Saturday.
"I had to block it out. I think I was a little bothered by it in the first half, not wanting to put too much pressure on it," said Millsap, who started this game 2-for-8. "The second half I just blocked it out and just tried to get out there and play. I just said, 'Get going, Paul.' You've got to hype yourself up every now and then."
The Jazz will take that kind of hype all they can get it.