The Phoenix Suns got out to a hot start, leading 21-10 after six minutes. But then the Rockets asserted their will and the Suns just could not handle it.
Before the half was over, the Rockets went on a 25-4 run that became 37-8 before the Suns got started moving again. But by then the game was over. And it was only mid second quarter.
Sorry TNT. But then again, you’re used to seeing blowouts.
By the start of the fourth quarter, it was a 22 point Rockets lead thanks to four more threes and 12 more free throws. The Suns just could not defend them.
On the good side, Devin Booker showed a great all around game with 27 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds.
Bender did finish with his second-highest scoring game of his career: 14 points with 8 rebounds and 2 assists.
And Alec Peters had his first game action for the Suns, with a dunk, a three and a hustle assist.
Out for Suns: Marquese Chriss (hip), Josh Jackson (hip) and the usual (Knight, Sauce, Reed)
Out for Rockets: Nene, James Harden, Mbah a Moute and a few others
The game started sloppy - don’t they all? - but the Suns took the early lead on sheer effort if not execution.
That is, until the Suns forgot the Rockets all just take three point shots and forgot to defend enough of them.
Tyson Chandler tried to keep the Suns close with 6 early points and 4 rebounds. Devin Booker and T.J. Warren started good as well, but Tyler Ulis and Dragan Bender struggled in the moment.
Houston took a boatload of threes (10 in the first 8 minutes), but only made 3 and were down 21-10 early. It helped that Bender and Ulis each drained a three.
The Rockets made up for it with an 11-0 run to tie the game as the Suns just missed some open shots (Booker was resting), and the Rockets started making their threes (up to 6-14).
Gerald Green put the Rockets ahead 24-23 with three free throws, giving him six for the game.
The Rockets ended the quarter on a 17-2 run as the Suns forgot both (a) how to play offense and (b) that the Rockets like taking threes.
The Rockets ended the quarter on pace for 64 threes in this game. And that’s only about 50% more than their usual pace.
Both former Suns Gerald Green and P.J. Tucker made at least 1 three already, and combined for 14 of the Rockets 27 points in the quarter. Of course.
The Suns didn’t start the second quarter well either, missing 6 of 7 shots. Troy Daniels can’t hit the broad side of a barn, and no one else could make a shot either.
Soon the Suns were down 33-25 and the Rockets were arguably playing really bad. But they kept taking threes, getting max value on every attempt.
The Rockets began toying with the Suns, really. Playing weird lineups. Just daring the Suns to make them play well.
It’s now a 29-4 run for the Rockets.
It got up to a ugly 37-6 run, including T.J. Warren missing the only two free throw attempts the Suns had taken all game, before Dragan Bender finally made a three. The Rockets played a large part of that run with a shooting guard, three small forwards and a center. Drove the Suns batty.
Devin Booker was trying way too hard to be unselfish on national TV during the run, giving his teammates way too much opportunity to miss shots.
But none of the Suns assists were in the direction of the rim to entice free throws/shooting fouls. Everything was jump shots if not open layups.
Finally, Devin Booker started scoring and helped the Suns get back in the game. At least to make it respectable.
Could have been worse: Houston 57, Suns 44 at half
Devin Booker with 18 points (7/11, 2/4) and 7 assists, making him directly responsible for 14 of the Suns 18 field goals in the first half. The Suns were only 11 of 34 outside of Booker.
Besides Booker, no one had more than 6 first half points.
Great intro of many of the Suns’ 92-93 NBA Finals team, including still Suns employees (Tom Chambers, Mark West, Tim Kempton) as well as Richard Dumas, Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle and Charles Barkley.
Also joining them were Paul Westphal (coach), Joe Proski (trainer), and Jerry Colangelo (Owner, GM).
Great memories guys!
There’s just too many times I have to yell ‘don’t make Tyson take a jumper!’ in this game.
Chris Paul makes three consecutive jumpers in Dragan Bender’s face. This is something like the 10th time this game that Bender has been targeted for a pull-up jumper. The theory apparently is that Bender thinks he's longer than he really is.
Even when the Suns could have gotten a rebound in a Ryan Anderson miss (in Bender’s face), Clint Capela knocking the ball from Chandler’s hands into Trevor Ariza’s for a long three.
Soon it was a game-high 20 point lead, 66-46.
There were just too many possessions where the Suns chose not to defend the three point jumper OR box out for the rebound.
And Dragan just wasn’t very good all game. This is a game he could have been good since he’s longer and quicker than the Rocket’s small forwards and guards, but he just didn’t have his best night. And Chris Paul kinda broke his spirit.
The Rockets did not let their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter like the Suns did, who brought in Alec Peters for his first game action of the season.
Ryan Anderson scored a bunch of points against the Suns backups and the lead was quickly almost up to 30 points. The other Rockets starters stayed in the game, and the Suns just could not keep up.