The Suns kept the game close for while, even taking a lead in the second quarter and cutting the Rockets lead to two points late in the third quarter. But the Rockets were too much, and by mid-4th it was a 20-point Rockets blowout.
James Harden settled for sharing the ball in the first half, collecting 11 assists against only 9 points at halftime. Harden made up for it in the second half, scoring 16 points against only 3 assists to balance out his night quite nicely.
The Suns just didn’t have the offensive weaponry nor the defensive discipline to keep up with the Rockets’ high-scoring attack all night long. And when the Suns did keep it close, they couldn’t keep their heads on straight - once again committing lots of fouls and drawing technicals.
Bad game all around. Dragan Bender didn’t see court - in a game I thought he’d be GREAT in defending the three-point line - until two minutes remained.
That’s all I have to say about that.
Brandon Knight had his best game of the season - scoring 17 points on only 10 shots, and adding 5 rebounds and 2 assists, 2 steals and a block. Unfortunately, despite looking SO good, Knight was somehow a -10 on the scoreboard. But this time it was his teammates dragging him down.
Devin Booker had 28 points, including FOUR dunks (one of which could be a poster), in yet another big loss. But at least this time he had a good scoring game AT HOME - only the second good one of the season for him. Booker also had 7 assists and 6 rebounds.
T.J. Warren got right - pouring in 19 points on 9/17 shooting after scoring only 2 points in the last two games combined.
The Rockets have now won 12 of their last 13 games, and are 22-8 overall on the season.
The Suns first possession died on a bad pass by Marquese Chriss leading to a scramble, and then a turnover by Devin Booker on his own bad pass.
But both recovered to score 11 of the Suns’ first 13 points to keep the Suns close at 16-13 despite giving up 8,000 leakouts to Trevor Ariza off simple rebounds. The Suns attempt to stay big with Tyson Chandler really had its defensive problems.
After Eric Bledsoe tied up the game at 16-16, the Rockets went on a 9-2 run by simply making fewer mistakes than the Suns. Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverly did their best to create havoc on defense while James Harden was content to just pass the ball (except for one long three as the shot clock died out).
The Suns stayed alive for the rest of the quarter as T.J. Warren showed he found his game again for 4 quick points against the Rockets active defense.
End of one: Rockets 30, Suns 26.
(it helped that Eric Gordon 0/3 on threes, and Sam Dekker 0/4 on FTs, but heck yeah the Suns will take that)
The Rockets started making threes again (thought they kept missing FTs) and took a 9-point lead on the back of three quick threes by the aforementioned Eric Gordon.
Once again, the Suns pulled back into it, even taking a small lead late in the second quarter (49-47 with 3:15 left) before James Harden assisted or scored on several consecutive possessions to lead the Rockets to a 14-6 finish to take a 61-55 halftime lead.
The Rockets came out composed, behind James Harden’s ball control. And the Suns came out frantic and undisciplined.
Guess what happened?
No matter how hard the Suns tried, the Rockets just played better because they knew exactly what they wanted to do on offense - which is slide slide slide behind the arc to open passing lanes for James Harden as he probed the defense from all over. Then catch-shoot-make no matter how far back of the line.
But then something happened that rarely happens. Brandon Knight showed off some excellent basketball play, and the Suns pulled close toward the end of the third quarter (86-84).
In fact, the Suns could have had a chance to tie it up but failed to corral not one but two loose ball offensive rebounds, and eventually allowed the Rockets to stretch their lead back to four and then to seven as James Harden drew a very questionable offensive foul on a three pointer as the quarter and shot clock expired.
Suns down 91-84 after three.
Unfortunately, the Rockets run continued. They scored 10 points on their first 4 possessions of the 4th quarter, making it 15 points on their last 6 possessions before the Suns FINALLY got a stop.
But the Rockets didn’t stop. While the Suns settled for making twos most of the time, the Rockets launched and launched.
Soon the Rocket lead was 20.