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Final Score: Suns take over 2nd in reverse standings

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The Suns fought hard once again, but could not hold off the Rockets.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns had a real chance to break their 10-game losing streak, with a game at home against a Rockets team missing their MVP candidate and two other rotation players.

But the Suns were coming off a back-to-back of their own, and weren’t playing more than one veteran (Jared Dudley), so they just didn’t have it.

A great sight to see was Dragan Bender putting up 9 points and grabbing 7 rebounds, along with 2 blocks, in 14 minutes in his return.

Fellow rookie Derrick Jones Jr. had a very active 10 points and 8 rebounds, along with one assist and one block.

Marquese Chriss had 9 and 6 and, best of all, FOUR huge blocks on the night. Alex Len had 4 blocks as well, along with a double-double (10 and 12).

And Tyler Ulis had a career high 34 points (15/22 shooting) with 9 assists and 9 rebounds. TYLER ULIS. So close to a triple double.

Devin Booker had 25 really tough points (ie. not making shots early, getting roughed up late), along with 9 assists and 5 rebounds.

Old man Jared Dudley had 15 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals too. So it’s not ALL just the kids playing well.

The Suns worked really hard, as they always do, but could not make (or stop) the big shots in the closing minutes. Twice the Suns got within 3-4 points, only to give up big threes to Lou Williams.

The Rockets made 14 threes on the night versus the Suns’ 8.

And the Rockets just would not be denied.

There were a lot of people out for this game:

  • The Rockets were missing James Harden (flu), Trevor Ariza (personal reasons) and Ryan Anderson (right ankle sprain).
  • The Suns were without T.J. Warren (ill) and their triumvirate of cheer from the bench in Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler.

So while some might think the Rockets were giving this game to the Suns, consider how much worse the Suns are as a team and that the Suns are out-sitting the Rockets.

First half

The Suns came out with an open floor dunk to Derrick Jones Jr. but then missed a lot of shots. Both teams missed a lot of shots.

The Rockets did make a few shots though, and suddenly the Suns found themselves down 18-10 despite Alex Len getting a couple nice blocks and the Suns forcing the Rockets to make shots rather than putting them on the line.

Then Patrick Beverly did that I-hate-the-Suns stuff and basically carried the Rockets to a 24-10 lead. No, the Suns are not hyped to win tonight.

Dragan Bender made his mark right after that, scoring his first bucket on (what might be his first) turnaround hook in the paint. Then he dunked in transition, to help the Suns get back to 25-17 on the board. After three minutes, Bender had 4 points, 3 rebounds and a block.

After 9 minutes, Bender had that up to a very active 9 points, 6 rebounds and a block!

But the Rockets kept a solid lead, making enough shots to stay in front 47-37, even while the Suns worked their butts off to try to score to the tune of 14 offensive rebounds by mid-second quarter.

Troy Williams was having a coming-out party for the Rockets, making 5/6 on threes in the first half, while Patrick Beverly made 3 of 4 of his own.

This is the Troy Williams who is:

  • played on the Suns SL team
  • played 24 games for Memphis this year, making 10 threes total, shooting 24% on them
  • Signed on March 10 with the Rockets but had not logged a single minute
  • playing in his FIRST game for the Rockets, in place of James Harden (flu)
  • scores 18 first half points

The Suns went on a big 11-0 run to take the lead, briefly, 48-47, behind a pair of threes by Dudley off Ulis assists, and Ulis’ own scoring outburst for 12 points in the second quarter alone.

The half ended with the Suns down 59-54.

Second half

Tyler Ulis picked up where he left off, and quickly ran his point total up to a career high 21, to go along with 7 assists and 6 rebounds by mid-third quarter.

But the Suns were still down 76-71 at that point because the Rockets just kept making shots while the rest of the Suns could not.

The Suns scrapped, as in their wont, and got almost tied before a series of (questionable) whistles really lit up the crowd and the players, though the refs weren’t giving any makeup calls.

After pulling to 82-81, the Suns allowed a late Rockets run to pull out to a 90-83 lead.

For the Rockets, Troy Williams and Patrick Beverly had 42 of the Rockets 90 points in 3 quarters, while Eric Gordon had 20 and Nene had 11.

For the Suns, Tyler Ulis had 25 by the end of three, with Dudley and Booker having 13 each.

Final frame

Summing up the whole night, the Suns got called for consecutive offensive fouls while the Rockets got away with a very clear double dribble that ended in Troy Williams’ 6th three pointer.

This game just isn’t going to be a Suns win.

And this is with the Rockets giving HUGE time to Troy Williams (rookie), Sam Dekker (sophomore), Isaiah Taylor (rookie), Montrezl Harrell (sophomore). Beverly, Gordon, Loss Williams and Nene really provided the veteran difference, though.

The Suns kept trying to come back, but the Rockets made too many shots. Some of them tough shots.