Houston Rockets 115, Phoenix Suns 112 — Oh so close

PHOENIX — Houston got up early and Phoenix led heading into the fourth quarter, but the Rockets made the plays late at U.S. Airways Center to hand the Suns their first loss of the post-All-Star break.

The 115-112 loss for the Suns on Sunday came in painful fashion. Despite Goran Dragic scoring a career-high 35 points and Phoenix battling Dwight Howard and James Harden effectively enough, botched plays late and poor defense early doomed Jeff Hornacek’s team.

Howard scored an efficient 25 points and Harden struggled by going 6-for-15 from the floor. The Rockets committed 22 turnovers leading to 29 points, but the Suns didn’t have enough stops in them to come back from an early deficit and then win.

So how did Phoenix answer the three pregame points of note?

Will Phoenix avoid trading buckets?

They took it a step further tonight. The Suns decided to just trade runs instead of buckets all night. The Rockets dominated the first 14 minutes by taking a 37-19 lead before things got crazy. Goran Dragic, who had a career-high 35 points, and the Morris brothers led a 29-8 charge that included a 15-0 burst toward the end of the second quarter that gave the Suns a brief 48-45 lead. The Rockets quickly rebounded and scored 11 straight to retake control going into the halftime break.

The trend picked up right where it left off to begin the second half. After the Rockets scored the first four points, the Suns countered by scoring the next nine. Shortly after, the Suns went on a 13-1 burst that gave them a seven-point cushion. It pretty much went back and forth in that sort of fashion the entire night.

Can Frye and Green get going early?

I would say neither did.

Channing Frye did start off the game hot behind the arch, hitting his first two three-point attempts, but that is all he contributed early on. He allowed Terrence Jones to score six of the first eight Rockets points and had trouble, along with the rest of the team, stopping Houston in the paint. The Rockets went scored 22 first quarter points in the paint and finished with 64 for the game.

Gerald Green had his own set of problems early on. He only scored two first quarter points on 1-for-4 shooting with a turnover. He also had a lackadaisical moment on the defensive end when he didn’t pay attention after a made basket and allowed Chandler Parsons to receive an advance pass and take it in for a lay-up.

The second half brought much better fortunes to Green as he scored 19 second-half points, with 18 of them coming in the third.

Frye finished 2-for-11 from the floor, but Markieff Morris put in an admirable 21 points and seven rebounds.

What’s the free throw differential?

The Rockets took advantage of their size, James Harden’s aggressiveness and some questionable calls to win this category tonight.  A poor start from the line to begin the game certainly didn’t help the Suns, either. Dragic missed his first three free throws before hitting his fourth attempt late in the game that caused him to throw his hands in the sky as to say “finally”. Harden led the way for Houston going 9-for-9 from the charity stripe. The Rockets finished 28-of-32 from the line with the Suns ending the game 17-of-24.

Tags: Dwight Howard Gerald Green Goran Dragic Houston Rockets James Harden Miles Plumlee Phoenix Suns Pj Tucker

  • Anonymous

    My heart sunk when dragic missed that last 3.

  • Anonymous

    By the way, there would have been less pressure on the suns if the refs actually called that OBVIOUS lane violation by howard on the last free throw attempt. Would have been down two instead of three.


    Excellent game. Dragic excelled except for that last shot.

  • JK

    The referees really blew that missed lane violation call. They also made a really poor decision calling the foul on one of the twins for fouling Chandler Parsons when the reason why he fell was because he tripped over his own feet. Terribly officiated game overall. I hope this crew receives some heat for this.

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  • EBJM

    Suns lost because they are one true post player short. Once again Frye was abused all night. They were buried by 18 early with T-Jones going right around him.

    They came storming back to go up by ten behind Dragic, Green, and the Morri.

    Frye comes back in and they lose by three.

    Heart-breaking. Frye is simply physically weak. All the Rockets “BIGS” are strong players. Frye was abused all night long.

  • mom grunkle

    Harden excels at grabbing a guys arm, sitting down and throwing it to make it look like he was fouled. And the dude will never be fined or cited for this. He did it against Ariza (google harden ariza flop). He tried it against Marcus Morris but forgot to sit down and got called for his 4th foul. He succeeded later when he did the same thing to PJ Tucker.

  • john

    The Suns lost because the refs blew that game. Sure, it would help to have a true post player, but last night’s loss had everything to do with the refs. That fourth quarter was horrendous.

    If an NBA ref blows his whistle, you can be certain that the next thing to come out of his mouth with be wrong.

  • AlabasterKnight

    Was at the game too. mom grunkle is spot on. Lets not forget some of the Howard hard fouls ‘off camera’ that were never seen by the myopic refs. I’m sorry, you can clearly say the Suns defense lacked a bit last night, maybe even try and say Frye is soft, but that game had clear and defining moments where refs killed momentum that had clearly turned to the Suns. Call me a homer all day long, there were so many phantom calls and no-calls that I thought we were watching a murder mystery and a mugging and not basketball.

  • JT

    I think they didn’t call the lane violation cause Morris actually did step in first, Howard came in after all the way through however. It was pretty clear though that Howard was second coming into the lane, he just so happened to go all the way in.

  • JT

    If you consider that the Suns fouled intentionally twice at the end of the game, which is an extra 4 free throws for the rockets, the FTAs number was pretty even.

  • RL

    The suns would have won if the refs didnt blow the game starting with the flagrant foul where the guy completely tripped over himself giving the rockets 4 points instead of the ball going out of bounds which turned the game. Then harden grabbing tucker and not getting a foul which harden would have fouled out meaning their last three point shot would have been defended completely different without him and finally howard coming into the lane.every nba player takes a step early which is never called but howard was under the rim waiting for it before it was shot how do you not call that what more obvious example of the call do you need? Horrible horrible horrible

  • bill_thomas

    We need to get someone like Solomon Jones to beat the CRAP out of Harden and punch Howard in the balls.

  • bill_thomas

    Too bad Indiana signed Andrew Bynum.

  • JT

    the foul for Chandler Parsons was not a flagrant, but a clear path foul. It was pretty obvious that his heel was clipped by Morris. which then caused him to stumble on himself. There’s actually 2 lines when lining up for free throws, you can pass the first but not the 2nd, so the suns player actually crossed the 2nd line first.