After possibly their most impressive all-around game of the season last night in beating the Mavericks, the Suns couldn't replicate that performance in Houston vs. an excellent Rockets team, losing 100-95.
Markieff Morris starred last night in outplaying Dirk Nowitzki, but Donatas Motiejunas was too much for Morris to handle on the defensive end tonight, and Keef hit only 2-14 shots to finish with 4 points and 7 rebounds, compared to 16 points and 11 rebounds from Motiejunas.
Five Rockets scored in double figures, led by Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley with 19 each, followed by Motiejunas' 16 and James Harden's 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists.
The Suns made several runs in this game after the Rockets lead ballooned to as many as 21 in the first half. It got as close as 9 in the second quarter as T.J. Warren made the most of his first significant minutes of the season with 5 points and 2 rebounds in the quarter. But the Rockets always had an answer with their 3-point shooting, and finished the first half up by 19 at 60-41.
Phoenix, meanwhile, didn't shoot anywhere close to their scorching percentage of the last couple of games, hitting only 37% of their FGs and 7-28 3s. Blame tired legs, though the Rockets also played last night.
A healthy Isaiah Thomas would have really come in handy in this game. The Suns needed a spark, as Dragic and Bledsoe were awful from behind the arc at a combined 1-11.
Eric Bledsoe led the Suns with 23 points, though he shoot poorly at 7-17. Gerald Green chipped in 16 off the bench, and P.J. Tucker 15.
Another early second half run by the Suns gave us a bit of hope, as the Rockets' lead was trimmed to 9 with 10 minutes to go before they laid down the law yet again. A Suns run followed by a Rockets answer was the theme of tonight's game.
Give the Suns credit for continuing to compete after it was decided. They narrowed the lead to 7 at 92-85, then to 4 at 97-93 but, like Sysyphus, could not push the boulder all the way up the hill. Beverley's return made a real difference in tonight's game, as he made a few hustle plays and 3s down the stretch.
This is a scary good Rockets team. Even missing four rotation players in Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, Kostas Papanikolaou and Isaiah Canaan, they still dominated the Suns for most of the game. At full strength, they are a championship contender along with the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors in the loaded West.
For the Suns, it's on to the next one for this brutal road trip as the Clippers await in LA on Monday night.