Rockets, Hawks, Nuggets Win Big

HOUSTON, Texas -- The Denver Nuggets stayed alive in a heart-stopper. The Atlanta Hawks stayed alive with some breathing room. The Phoenix Suns needed to be checked for a pulse. In three distinctly different games on Tuesday night, three teams came away with 3-2 playoff series leads. Two of the teams -- Utah and Indiana -- missed chances to close out their series. Houston, meanwhile, continued its comeback from a 2-0 deficit. The Nuggets beat the Jazz 109-101 in double overtime, the Hawks beat the Pacers 88-76 and the Rockets crushed the Suns 109-86. At Houston, it was over shortly after it started. The Rockets had a pair of early 9-0 spurts, the second of which gave them a 27-13 lead in the first quarter. They opened the second period with a 10-1 run en route to a 58-37 halftime lead. By the time the fourth period was three minutes old, the lead was up to 32. "That wasn't our team out there tonight," Phoenix coach Paul Westphal said. "That's one of the worst games we've played all season." Denver 109, Utah 101. Of Tuesday night's games, the one in Denver was the most exciting. Both teams had chances to win before it reached double overtime. John Stockton barely missed an off-balance 10-footer from the corner at the end of regulation, and Robert Pack clanged a three-point attempt at the end of the first overtime. That sent it into a second extra period, and Denver ran off the first seven points to silence the crowd at the Delta Center. Brian Williams scored the first two points on a dunk off a pass from Pack. Utah got within four, 103-99, on Tyrone Corbin's three-pointer with 52 seconds left, but Jazz players forced their next two shots. Denver made its free throws in the final seconds to close it out. It was Denver's fifth straight victory in a win-or-go-home situation. Hawks 88, Pacers 76. At Atlanta, the Hawks shut down the Pacers with the kind of intense defensive effort they were missing in Games Three and Four. The Pacers shot only 35 percent from the field and were scoreless in the final 2:39 as they failed to get the ball into Reggie Miller's hands. Haywoode Workman ended up nil for eight from the field and Byron Scott was two for 11. Atlanta's Mookie Blaylock turned in his second triple-double of the series with 14 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. He also had four steals and a blocked shot.