Rookie leads Rockets over Jazz 113-96

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Missing stars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, the Houston Rockets are counting quite a bit on their 3-point shooting early in the season. So far, it's only gotten them off to a 3-1 start.

Rookie Chase Budinger scored a career-high 17 points and was one of four Houston players with multiple 3-pointers as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 113-96 on Monday night.

"We have to manufacture points. We have good shooters on this team, so we're going to be really aggressive," said Shane Battier, who hit three 3-pointers and scored 13. "Some nights it's going to backfire and we're going to look terrible but some nights we can get it rolling and really score a lot of points from beyond the arc."

The Rockets made 10 of 19 3-pointers while winning their third straight.

Houston was 25-58 on the road against the Jazz entering Monday and hadn't won in Utah since spoiling the Jazz's home opener two years ago. The Rockets led by just three entering the fourth quarter, then blew open the game with a 13-0 run early in the final period.

"All I have heard of is how tough it is to win here," said Budinger, a rookie out of Arizona whose previous high was 11 points. "People are just amazed how bad we kind of beat them just because that doesn't happen here."

It happened Monday because Rockets were playing like the Jazz intended to. Houston outrebounded Utah 46-38 and had 29 assists to the Jazz's nine. It was the Rockets, not the Jazz, who were passing the ball around for open shots, then kicking it outside.

"I thought tonight we had maybe the best ball movement we've had all year," coach Rick Adelman said. "The 29 assists could have been a lot more. Everyone was moving the ball well."

Eight Houston players scored in double figures.

Aaron Brooks had 19 points and nine assists and Luis Scola added 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Rockets (3-1), who made eight of their first 12 shots in the fourth quarter to blow open a three-point game.

Chuck Hayes had 12 points and nine rebounds, Trevor Ariza scored 15 and Carl Landry and Kyle Lowry added 10 points each for the Rockets, whose reserves outscored Utah's 40-13.

"If you're not going to defend, it's pretty tough to have a chance to win," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "They got on top of the basket, they drove around us, they went up to the ball on the boards and they passed the ball."

Deron Williams had 18 points and eight assists and Andrei Kirilenko added 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks for the Jazz (1-2).

Mehmet Okur scored 21 and Ronnie Brewer had 19 points for the Jazz.

Utah was just 13 for 35 in the second half, going more than 7 minutes without a field goal late in the third quarter. Carlos Boozer went 1 for 6 while scoring seven and Williams was just 6 for 20 from the floor for Utah, which was 13 of 35 in the second half.

The Jazz, who said throughout the preseason they wanted to improve defensively and avoid another late-season collapse, have allowed 325 points in three games -- an average over 108.

"We've just got to have more determination to come out and get stops and not let people score," Williams said. "We're just picking up right where we left off. We haven't played a good game of basketball yet."

The Jazz went without a field goal from Okur's layup with 7:14 left in the third until Kirilenko hit a 22-footer at the buzzer cut Houston's lead to 79-76 heading to the fourth. Utah had just regained possession with 3.4 seconds left when Williams drew an offensive foul on Ariza as he took the ball up court after yet another miss by the Jazz.

The Jazz took a short-lived 80-79 lead, then Houston started scoring. Budinger banked in a shot to give Houston the lead for good at 82-80, then followed that with a 3-pointer.

The Rockets led 89-84 when they pulled away with 13 straight points. Budinger hit another 3-pointer and a layup during the run, which Lowry capped with a 3 that put the Rockets up 102-04 with 5:02 left in the game.

Jazz fans started booing and leaving the building, not wanting to see any more. and Battier hit again from beyond the arc to put Houston up

Notes: Okur missed the Jazz's home opener Friday with a sprained ankle. ... Utah rookie Wes Matthews scored his first NBA points on a layup with 10:08 left in the second quarter to put Utah up 32-26. ... The Rockets made exactly half their shots (42-84).

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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