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Suns Bench Steps Up, Locks Down Rockets Down the Stretch, 118-110

The Suns made the stops down the stretch to stop the Rockets. (Photo by Max Simbron)
The Suns made the stops down the stretch to stop the Rockets. (Photo by Max Simbron)

Now that was an odd game. Anyone who watched the game, played in it, or coached it admitted they had never been involved in such a game of back and forth runs through the first three quarters.

It was a first half of absurd runs by both teams. In the first quarter, the Suns jumped out to a 21-5 lead after a 15-0 run led by 3 Channing Frye 3-pointers.  But Aaron Brooks led the Rockets on a 12-0 run with 13 points, closing the Suns lead to 21-17. The first quarter ended with the Suns up 36-33 and both teams shooting an identical 60% on 14-23 shooting.

In the second quarter it was the Rockets turn to make a run, trouncing the Suns during a 23-4 stretch as the Suns began the quarter shooting 1-7 with 4 turnovers to add to the fun. The Rockets went up by as many as 16 before the Suns closed out the second on a 13-2 run, closing the gap to 7 at the half, down 60-53

In the third quarter the suns drew even after beginning the quarter on a 7-0 run. Going back to the end of the second quarter the Suns outscored the Rockets 20-4. But the fun was only just beginning. The Rockets fought back, with an 8-0 spurt of their own, as Trevor Ariza hit two straight threes before the Suns called a timeout to regroup. Alvin Gentry chastised his squad who then responded by outscoring the Rockets 17-5 as Steve Nash caught fire, with 9 points, while Jason Richardson scored 8, 4 of which coming from Steve Nash lobs in the paint. The Suns retook the lead, 77-76. The Suns outscored the Rockets 32-26 in the quarter and pulled within one of the Rockets, 86-85.

While we all stared at one another dumbfounded, flabbergasted, and slightly confused, the 4th quarter was a return to NBA normalcy as the runs stopped and the Suns defense tightened. 

The Suns bench answered the bell, with a collective effort that decided the game. Robin Lopez came up huge with 4 blocks and otherwise neutralized Carl Landry and Co., helping to force 8 turnovers in the quarter.

Leandro Barbosa continued his wild, inconsistent play for most of the game, but managed to finish a layup and dropping a three pointer. Goran Dragic hit a three as did Jared Dudley. With 6.5 minutes left in the game, the Suns found themselves up 100-94 and the starters returned to seal the victory.

Channing Frye capped an excellent offensive night (6-12 from behind the arc) with two threes. The game concluded with the following sequences:

  • With the Suns up 112-106, Nash tossed an errant pass into the front row seats
  • Carl Landry responded with a bucket to trim the lead to 112-108 with 1.19 left.
  • Jason Richardson followed with a wide open miss at the top of the key.
  • Trevor Ariza missed a 3, and Chase Budinger was called for an offensive foul, which left the Rockets in the penalty.
  • Grant Hill hit 2 free throws, and the Suns were up 114-108 with 42 seconds left.
  • Aaron Brooks managed only 1 of 2 free throws, leaving the Suns up 114-109, with  27.7 seconds left

From there it was a free throw shooting contest-Game Over, man, Suns 118-110. 


Houston 33 27 26 24 110
Phoenix 36 17 32 33 118
Shane Battier 28 0-4 0-3 0-0 5-2 3 1 3 0 2-0 0
Luis Scola 23 5-11 0-0 1-2 5-3 0 1 2 0 1-0 11
Chuck Hayes 12 1-3 0-0 0-0 2-1 1 0 1 0 1-0 2
Trevor Ariza 33 5-14 4-11 1-1 4-0 1 1 0 0 1-0 15
Aaron Brooks 42 11-22 6-12 6-6 3-1 5 2 4 0 4-0 34
Carl Landry 33 14-23 0-0 3-3 10-5 1 2 2 1 3-0 31
Kyle Lowry 27 1-3 0-0 1-1 6-3 6 0 4 0 2-0 3
Chase Budinger 22 4-11 1-6 0-0 8-1 1 0 1 0 3-0 9
David Andersen 15 2-5 0-1 1-2 4-2 3 1 1 0 5-0 5
Tracy McGrady DNP - Injured
Yao Ming DNP - Injured
Brian Cook DNP - Coach's Decision
Joey Dorsey DNP - Injured
Jermaine Taylor DNP - Coach's Decision
Team Totals 43-96 11-33 13-15 47-18 21 8 18 1 22-0 110
.448 .333 .867 Team Reb: 4 Total TO: 0 (25 pts)
Grant Hill 26 2-2 0-0 4-4 1-0 1 0 1 1 2-0 8
Amare Stoudemire 35 9-17 0-0 7-9 11-2 1 1 2 0 3-0 25
Channing Frye 41 8-14 6-12 0-0 9-0 2 1 0 3 4-0 22
Jason Richardson 30 7-14 2-5 4-4 6-2 4 2 3 1 3-0 20
Steve Nash 35 11-16 2-2 2-2 2-0 12 3 6 0 1-0 26
Jared Dudley 25 1-1 1-1 0-0 5-0 0 1 2 0 1-0 3
Leandro Barbosa 17 4-11 1-3 0-0 0-0 0 0 2 0 2-0 9
Louis Amundson 4 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 1-0 0
Goran Dragic 12 1-2 1-2 0-0 1-1 2 0 1 0 0-0 3
Robin Lopez 10 0-2 0-0 2-4 4-2 0 0 0 4 1-0 2
Jarron Collins DNP - Coach's Decision
Earl Clark DNP - Coach's Decision
Team Totals 43-79 13-25 19-23 39-7 22 8 17 9 18-0 118
.544 .520 .826 Team Reb: 5 Total TO: 0 (14 pts)



Postgame Notes And Quotes

  • As strange as the game was for 3 quarters tonight, credit should be given to the whole team, especially the bench who not only maintained a slim lead, but managed to increase it while the starters got a 6 minute breather in the 4th.
  • Aaron Brooks played out of his mind tonight, with 34 points off of 11-22 shooting. Carl Landry was his beastly self with 31 points and 10 boards 
  • The Suns are averaging 117 points per game in its last seven games since LB returned to the lineup.
  • The Suns have made 12 or more three-pointers four times in the last seven games (5-2) after not doing so in the first 12 games of December (4-8).
  • The Suns are 10 games above .500 for the first time since December 5 (15-5).
  • Leandro Barbosa is nearly back in my opinion. He got to the rim whenever he wanted tonight. And while he didn't finish like he normally does, and he's still playing a bit out of control, his ankle seems healthy (Gentry says it is) and he's moving without limitation. The rest is just shaking off the rust.
  • Channing Frye's shot is so effortless and pure. He even pulled down 9 rebounds tonight.
  • At  23-13, the Suns have the third best record in the Western Conference (Up the power rankings we go!!! SARC)
  • Next up the Heat at Home Friday, 7 P.M.


Aaron Brooks:

"Steve Nash is pretty good. They got every shot they wanted and hit it. They hit a lot of threes. Barbosa played well and Frye was really shooting well. Nash was Nash pretty much...It was a game of runs and we knew that. Unfortunately, in the past couple of games our fourth quarters haven't been so good...I'm kind of tired of these learning experiences, but I don't know that's the way it goes."

Carl Landry:

"We just had breakdowns. I think we can compete with pretty much anybody in the league. I've been pretty much saying that since the beginning of the year. We just didn't execute when we needed to late in the fourth quarter."

Alvin Gentry:

"That's probably about as good a win a we'll have against a team of that quality. they are just blue collared all the way, and then when you throw in a guy like Aaron Brooks, they just become real difficult to guard...It was a seesaw game, I don't know if I've ever been involved in a game where you're up 16 then down 16, you're up 10 and then you're down 5. It was such a crazy game but we hung in there."

Jason Richardson:

"I've never seen a game like this before. Two teams that both go up by 16 . It was a back and forth roller coaster game, but both teams had played back-to-back games. Each team had spurts and went on runs, gave up runs. I've never been part of a game like this before."

Robin Lopez:

"I'm just trying to go out there and affect shots. I just wanted to put doubt in his mind (Carl Landry)...I'm feeling a lot more comfortable out there. I'm doing whatever I can to help the team, whenever they need me I'll be there for them."

And now, what you've been waiting for, the Suns reaction to the Gilbert Arenas situation:

Amare Stoudemire:

"That's a tough situation. You never want to bring firearms into a place that prohibits them. you definitely want to know your rules and regulations and bylaws on that. You gotta be smart about that when it comes to carrying firearms and things of that nature. For the kids out there or young adults you gotta be safe with firearms, its not a fun thing, it's not cool to carry firearms at all, unless your law enforcement then you protect and serve..."

Jared Dudley:

"I know it's wrong bringing guns in hopefully it stops at that. You don't want to hear about someone's contract voided, I've never even heard of someone getting their contract voided so far in the NBA.  I hope that doesn't happen. Hopefully he takes things more serious."

Alvin Gentry:

"All I know is there's nothing good that can come out of bringing guns into the locker room."



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