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Game Preview: Phoenix Suns host Mike D’Antoni’s soaring Rockets

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The Houston Rockets come to feed on the reeling Phoenix Suns after a last-second loss to the Spurs.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns vs. Houston Rockets

When: 7:00 PM AZ Time

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


This is shaping up to be a tough night for Suns fans.

As we watch the Suns struggle to score on one end, with each scoring shot largely heavily contested and unassisted, we get to see how Mike D’Antoni designs an unstoppable, free-flowing offense on the other end.

The Houston Rockets had won 10 straight games, and 15 of 17, before getting downed on a buzzer-beater by none other than the San Antonio Spurs last night. They are pumping in a unbelievable amount of threes on their way to owing the regular season like Mike’s old Suns teams did.

The Suns, meanwhile, are on a three-game losing streak while surrendering 113 points per game on the year.

Yikes.

The Rockets (21-8)

After failed stops with the Knicks and Lakers, and only marginal success as the “offensive coordinator” of the Sixers last year, former Suns coach Mike D’Antoni has re-emerged as one of the best offensive minds in the game down in Houston, Texas.

Give Mike an All-Star guard in his prime and he’ll make that guy an MVP candidate if you surround him with shooters.

After helping Steve Nash go from a 7-assist-per-game PG to a 12 assist-per-game superstar, now he’s turned James Harden from a 7-assist-per-game shooting guard to a 12-assist-per-game point guard.

James Harden was already one of the game’s best shot-creator for himself. Now, he’s become the game’s best shot-creator for others.

Harden is averaging not only 27 points of his own a game, but also 11.7 assists and 8 rebounds. If it weren’t for Russell Westbrook, Harden would be getting all the triple-double talk.

Basically, he’s Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant all rolled into one. And he might win MVP this year, despite Westbrook and the Warriors’ and King James’ feats.

Around Harden, you’ve got a resurgent Eric Gordon who is pumping in 43% of his career-high 8.4 threes per game. Trevor Ariza is making 37% of his 7.4 threes per game. Ryan Anderson is “only” making 40% of his 6.5 threes per game.

That’s four different Rockets taking at least 6.5 threes per game.

On the other side, the Suns’ leading three-point shooter is Devin Booker at 5.1 attempts per game, and Booker is only making 32% of them. Eric Bledsoe is second on the team with 4.5 three-point attempts, but only making 29% of them.

Blech...


Key matchup

This could be a Pringles Blowout tonight. I could easily see the Rockets winning by 40 as they pump up 60+ threes against the Suns’ porous defense.

But if the Suns have a chance it’s got to be with P.J. Tucker working his magic on James Harden - which he seems to do every other game against the Beard - and the rest of the Rockets somehow taking a page out of Michael Floyd’s post-loss celebration handbook.

Other than that, the Suns don’t really match up well at all.

Prediction

Ugliness for the Suns.

Prettiness for the Rockets.