Yao hurt, and Rockets lose


SALT LAKE CITY – Carlos Boozer scored 25 points and the Utah Jazz kept their slim playoff hopes alive by holding off the Houston Rockets 85-83 when Juwan Howard’s shot at the buzzer was ruled too late.

The Rockets, who lost center Yao Ming in the first quarter with a broken foot, had a chance at the end after Boozer went 1-for-2 from the free throw line with 4.3 seconds left.

Chuck Hayes, who had just missed two free throws at the other end, pulled down the rebound on the second shot and Houston called time out. Rafer Alston dribbled at the top of the key, but took a little too long to get the ball to Howard in the corner in front of the Jazz bench. Howard’s shot went in but he didn’t get the ball off in time.

After reviewing the play, referee Joe Crawford ended the game by shouting “no good” toward Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy and the Rockets.

Howard finished with 25 points and Alston scored 20 for the Rockets. They were the only Houston players to score in double figures, although the shorthanded Rockets came close to all-but knocking Utah out of the playoff race.

The Jazz improved to 38-39 and within 21/2 games of the Lakers and Kings, who are tied for the last two playoff spots.

AP-ES-04-10-06 2332EDT