After going up 86-73 in the third quarter, the Suns allowed the Rockets all the way back. Capped by a 19-3 run, the Rockets took a 107-104 lead with about 7 minutes left.
Then Devin Booker happened. A post-up-and-one. A three. A righty drive and a lefty drive.
His personal 10-0 run gave the Suns the lead back in about 2.5 minutes, 114-107, with 5:20 to go.
The Rockets wouldn’t go away though. Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley and D.J. Augustin did their best ‘this is a real NBA team’ impression. Soon it was a one-possession game again.
Back to back threes from Chris Paul and Devin Booker, sandwiching another DA block, pumped the lead back to 123-114 again.
From there the Suns closed out another closer-than-it-shoulda-been game, 133-130.
The Suns were up 127-118 with just over a minute left but made a layup, a three, got a steal and made another three on a rocket-quick 11-2 run to cut the lead to 129-126 with 40 seconds left. Devin Booker made a pair of free throws to make it a two-possession game to finally close it out.
Big game numbers?
- Deandre Ayton, season-high tying 27 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks
- Devin Booker, 36 points (6 threes), 6 rebounds and 6 assists
- Chris Paul, 19 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 steals
- Mikal Bridges had 20 points, and Cameron Johnson had 12
- The Rockets, worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA, made 17 of 38 threes to keep this close
But it shouldn’t have been that close...
How did this happen?
Once again, the Phoenix Suns let their foot off the gas after taking a good lead. And this time it was the second unit that allowed the Rockets life while earlier in the year the first unit needed the backups to save them.
The Rockets had lost 26 of 28 games coming in, bookended by 20 straight and 4 straight. But since the trade deadline they’ve played some good teams very tight. And this was another one, even when the Suns didn’t think it would happen like that.
The Suns got up 86-73 late in the third quarter when the Rockets surged back to tie the game with 10 minutes left on a 28-15 run against a mix of starters and backups. The Rockets were playing free and loose, as a lot of down-and-out teams do against a whale of an opponent. Their 34-18 run included a 19-3 run to put them up 107-104 before Devin Booker happened.
The Rockets shot better than usual, which is easy to do since they are last in the league in 3P percentage. They had 12 threes by the time the score knotted at 101-101. It helps to have veterans like Avery Bradley, D.J. Augustin and Kelly Olynyk getting big minutes.