PHOENIX (AP) -- A blown 22-point lead wasn't enough to prevent
the Phoenix Suns from winning their fifth in a row.
Amare Stoudemire had 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Suns, who
dominated the boards 55-36. Raja Bell scored 20, Nash 17 and
Leandro Barbosa 14 as Phoenix snapped the Rockets' four-game
winning streak. Shawn Marion had 13 points and 12 boards.
"We weren't clicking. We didn't have it going," Nash said,
"so in some ways I was proud of us for sticking with it, because
this wasn't one of those nights when things were flowing."
The Suns blew a 22-point first-half lead, then pulled away after
Houston went up 74-72 on McGrady's 18-footer with 9:21 to play.
Nash, 2-for-11 until that point, put Phoenix back ahead with a
3-pointer, then made a 22-footer to make it 77-74 with 8:34 left.
Chuck Hayes' basket cut the lead to 77-76, but the Suns
outscored the Rockets 14-3 over the next four minutes. Barbosa,
back after missing two games with a sprained left ankle, made his
third layup against Yao of the night, then Nash's 3-pointer put
Phoenix ahead 91-79 with 4:11 to go.
"It says something about your team to give up a lead and be
able to come back and win the game," Bell said.
Down 17 at the break, the Rockets started the second half with a
16-3 surge. Luther Head and Alston sank 3-pointers to cut Phoenix's
lead to 60-56 with 5:19 left in the third quarter.
The Suns were 1-for-10 with six turnovers to that point in the
"We just went dead offensively in the third quarter," Phoenix
coach Mike D'Antoni said. "For whatever reason, we just have that
habit of losing our concentration a little bit and we went dead. If
we score a normal third quarter of 25 points, we beat them by 20.
That's what the game should have been, but it's not bad to suffer a
McGrady, 4-for-18 through three quarters, tied it at 72 with a
3-pointer, then gave Houston the lead, 74-72, with an 18-footer
with 9:21 to play. Other than 2-0, it was the only lead of the
night for the Rockets.
"We didn't guard anybody in the fourth quarter," Houston coach
Jeff Van Gundy said. "We had a hard time with their pick-and-roll
Houston made just four of its first 19 shots in the second
quarter, and the Suns led 55-33 after Stoudemire's two free throws
with 1:36 left in the half. But the Rockets finished the half with
a 7-2 spurt to cut the lead to 57-40 at the break.
Yao had five points in 12 minutes and went to the bench with his
third foul with 8:15 to go in the half. He drew his fourth in the
opening minutes of the second half but stayed on the court and
scored 13 in the quarter.
"You can't go through droughts like we did in the first half
and expect to win too many games here," Houston's Shane Battier
said. "But with the droughts we had, we still had a shot."
The Suns have sold out all eight of their home games. ...
The Rockets were playing on consecutive nights, while Phoenix
hadn't played since Sunday. ... Phoenix has won seven of eight
after a 1-5 start. ... The Rockets were 13-of-38 on 3-pointers, the
Suns 8-of-19. ... Rookie Shane Novak got his first start for the
Rockets, going 2-for-5 for six points.
Denzel Valentine could land in Chicago's rotation after Derrick Rose departed for New York.
No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons said hearing the news of the death of his cousin "is a reminder to never forget the important things in life."
DeMar DeRozan, arguably the top shooting guard who could hit the free-agent market, is focused on re-signing with the Raptors, a source said.