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Game Preview: Phoenix Suns vs. Houston Rockets - Different Names, Same Focus

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After nearly a week and a half off, and the NBA trade deadline behind them, the Phoenix Suns return to action tonight at home vs. the Houston Rockets.

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns (14-40) host Houston Rockets (27-28)

When: 7:30 pm

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ

TV: FSAZ (locally)

Radio: 98.7 FM Arizona Sports

Game Preview

After nearly a week and a half off, and the NBA trade deadline behind them, the Phoenix Suns return to action tonight at home vs. the Houston Rockets.

The Suns were relatively quiet at the trade deadline, only losing and gaining one player, but they did what they had to do in order to both rid their last malcontent, and also get the stink of season's past off of them.

Exit Markieff Morris and enter...Kris Humphries.

Well, the trade from the Suns perspective really wasn't about the incoming player, anyway (first round draft pick, top-9 protected). Without Markieff, the Suns will likely lose a bit of production on the court...at least in comparison to to post-Hornacek era...but that's ok. It isn't really about winning, anyway.

Instead, the Suns will likely continue to keep the same focus of developing their youth and expecting effort and hustle from the players on the court. Just because you aren't winning doesn't mean you should allow your team to play without effort. And I don't think that will change.

Brandon Knight is starting to shoot around at practice again, but there still isn't any timetable on his return...It won't be tonight, though the Suns seem hopeful for a return to action soon. But hey...at least Jon Leuer may be back in action!

As for the Rockets, well, Dwight Howard wasn't traded. However, they did deal Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton for a first round pick. So, they got a little worse as well.

But still, with James Harden and Dwight Howard, the Rockets are still obviously more than a formidable opponent for a team like the Suns. Even though they have struggled this year, the bearded one is still second in the NBA in scoring, just behind Steph Curry (29.8) averaging 28 points per game.

Houston is coming off of a three-game losing streak before the All-Star break, and will no doubt be looking to turn it around in Phoenix tonight,

Probable Starting Lineups

Archie Goodwin vs Patrick Beverley

Devin Booker vs. James Harden

P.J. Tucker vs. Trevor Ariza

Mirza Teletovic vs. Corey Brewer

Tyson Chandler vs. Dwight Howard

Game Prediction

The Suns will likely get a bit of a post-All Star break boost, after a week of rest and relaxation, but so should the Rockets.

Unlike the post-Hornacek boost (purely by accident, right?), I don't believe the players will respond with better energy of effort tonight after losing Keef.

Love him or hate him, I think most of the players genuinely connected with him...especially Archie. I'm not saying that they will play worse, but I don't think there's much hope of them suddenly playing better, either.

The Suns will probably look very similar to the same team that has lost their last nine games. And, with the season already a wash and the only light at the end of the tunnel being a glint reflecting off of a ping-pong ball...that's ok.

I believe that the Suns will play with energy and hustle tonight, if a little sloppy after the long reprieve. But they likely won't be able to overcome the scoring ability of the Houston Rockets

Suns lose 104 - 96