The odds were stacked against the Suns tonight. They lost an 18 point lead, weathered a ridiculous Trevor Ariza three to tie the game at the end of regulation, dealt with some awful officiating, but still managed to pull out an OT win, 115-111 over the Rockets.
Amare MAX Stoudemire led the Suns charge with 36 and 10. Grant Hill chipped in 19, and Steve Nash went for 11/16/8 for the Suns.
The Suns limited the Rockets starters to a combined 25-75 from the field and won the battle of the boards 55-46, although Houston had 18 offensive rebounds.
Steve Nash and Co held Aaron Brooks to 9 points through three quarters while a number of Suns chipped in on the defensive end to slow the Rockets big men:
- Robin Lopez went for 14 and 6 with 3 blocks
- Jason Richardson shot 4-11 but grabbed 8 rebounds
- Louis Amundson and Channing Frye pulled down 6 and 5 rebounds each off the bench
- Jared Dudley had 13 points and 3 rebounds off the bench
The Suns jumped out to a quick first quarter lead, fueled by a 13-0 run in which the Rockets missed 12 straight shots. Grant Hill scored11 points while Amare Stoudemire went 6 and 4 and Robin Lopez 7 and 5. The Suns were up 28-21 at the end of one quarter, but it shouldn't have been that close.
In the second, Houston still struggled to make baskets while Amare took over, scoring 11 points. With 3 minutes remaining before the half, Steve Nash hit two free throws to extend the Suns lead, 56-38. Of course, with an 18 point lead, it was time for us Suns fans to start worrying.
Trevor Ariza scored 5 straight, and Luis Scola scored 4, and the Suns went to the half with a 60-48 lead.
In the third, the Rockets went on a 21-10 run. The Suns went cold from the field, turned the ball over, and managed to wake up Aaron Brooks, who hit two long three pointers to help pull the Rockets to within one, 68-67. But the Suns closed out the period on a 9-2 run, and led going into the 4th, 79-73.
In the 4th, the second unit began to falter. Earl Clark committed two rookie turnovers and the Rockets went on a 8-0 run. Clark wasn't the only one giving the ball away. The Suns committed 6 turnovers and lost the lead. At 85-85, Amare went to work, with 11 straight Suns points.
With 1.17 left and the Suns clinging to a 97-96 lead, Steve Nash got hit with a technical foul. It was ill-timed, and poor self control for Team Canada, but we all know Nash. He must have been pretty pissed off to lose it like that, and part of me doesn't blame him. (More on the officiating later).
Nash made up for his error with a three putting the Suns up 100-97 with 1.07 left. After a solid defensive stand that pushed the Rockets into a back court violation, the Suns couldn't cushion their lead. Houston gained possession off of a jump ball (More on the officiating later), and Trver Ariza stuck an impossible 3 with a Jason Richardson hand in his face to tie things up at 100. The Suns still had 11 seconds to win it, but a forgettable possession resulted in a missed Steve Nash shot and end of regulation.
In OT, Amare Stoudemire fouled out, but Jason Richardson scored 4 of his 8 total points. Then some more weirdness occurred. After a Richardson airball with the shot clock winding down, Aaron Brooks drove for what appeared to be a fairly easy layup past one outstretched Grant Hill arm. But it may have been enough to distract Brooks who blew the layup. Jared Dudley grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
After two Dudley free throws put the Suns up 113-110, Aaron Brooks was intentionally fouled. Brooks made his first free throw, but purposely missed the second. The ball hit the rim, bounced back to Brooks, but he was whistled for entering the lane too soon. Rick Adelman and Brooks both threw hissy-fits, but replays showed it was a good call (One correct call doesn't change anything). Steve Nash iced the game with two free throws off of an intentional foul.
I don't usually complain about officiating. But tonight was pretty bad. When Nash gets T'd up, it's a rare occurrence, and you can be 99% sure that he wasn't bitching about something stupid. More specifically, Nash was called for a foul off of a Rockets inbound play. The replays showed not only was the call late, but there was no foul. At all. Another ridiculous call involving Nash was the scrum on the floor in which J-Rich clearly got his hands on the ball with Luis Scola, but somehow Nash was called to jump for the Suns.
There were more weird calls (feel free to comment on your favorite), but who cares, the Suns won, and you can't expect much fairness on the other team's court....
Of Further Note:
- Did you see J-Rich's blind two-handed-behind-the-head-reverse put back?
- Did you see Robin Lopez go after Carl Landry-I mean literally, he went after him, chucked him to the court (no foul called). I love Lopez, and I love more that he got away with that because he could have been T'd up.
- Did you see Carl Landry flop? Like he took an elbow to the face from Amare. He even went to the floor and covered his face. the replay showed Amare didn't touch him. Sorry Carl, the man crush is over. I won't put up with that.
- The Suns shot 3-14 from three point range, the Rockets 11-34
- The Suns were 32-35 from the free throw line, the Rockets 20-29
- The Suns had 11 blocks to the Rockets 3
- The Rockets scored 19 points off of 16 Suns turnovers
- The Rockets took 23 more shots from the field than the Suns
Next up, New Orleans 2/1, 6 P.M. MST. Chris Paul is out with knee surgery.
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