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Jazz praise their defensive effort

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The day after, the Jazz were patting themselves on the back for their part in Houston shooting just 32.8 percent from the field in Game 3.

"Our defense was great (Thursday) night, from start to finish," point guard Deron Williams said. "Our pressure was there, the energy was there. Guys were helping each other. We were playing our kind of defense.

"We were rotating harder, helping each other a lot more," Williams added. "When you do that, it's a lot more effective."

That said, the Jazz aren't so delusional as to think their ramped-up defense was the only reason for the Rockets' trigger troubles.

"We played some good defense," forward Matt Harpring said. "But, along with that, they were missing some shots. So, we would love to take credit — but we know better."

The fact is Thursday was a lousy shooting night for both teams, as Utah and Houston's combined 36.2 shooting percentage is — according to Elias Sports Bureau — the lowest for two clubs together in any NBA playoff game over the past three postseasons.

It's also a fact that Houston — up 2-1 in the first-round, best-of-seven affair that resumes tonight — has failed to shoot better than 40 percent in the series' first three games, when their combined success rate is just 36.1 percent.

Utah, meanwhile, has been above the 40 percent plateau only once, when it hit 45.2 percent in its Game 2 loss.

"It's been ugly for both teams offensively the whole series, so defense is where it's at," Williams said. "That's your bread and butter right now.

"Hopefully they do," he added when asked if he thinks the Rockets will continue to shoot so poorly. "That's what we're hoping on — to keep playing the defense like we are. We're not letting them get easy shots. That's the main thing."

E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com