Two nights, two hard-fought victories for the Suns.
Fueled by a trio of Channing Frye three-pointers (part of a 6-of-12 performance from beyond the arc), the Suns unleashed a 15-0 run in the first quarter to shoot out to a 21-5 lead. Houston then fired back with a 12-0 blast of its own to pull to within four points, followed by a 23-4 breakout in the second period courtesy of some ace offense from the Rockets' Aaron Brooks and Carl Landry.
Despite their fatigue from playing a tough game against Sacramento, Steve Nash and the rest of the Suns' starters busted out with 13 unanswered points to claw back to a 60- 53 score at halftime.
"We had to fight tonight," stated Nash in post-game interviews, which perfectly describes what Phoenix went through in the second half versus the Rockets.
Frye's dominance from downtown (part of a 13-for-25 treys from the entire Suns roster) was answered by the deadeye long-distance shooting of the Rockets' Trevor Ariza in the third. Coupled with both Nash's and Stoudemire's temporarily going cold, it enabled both Phoenix and Houston to stay even through the end of the quarter. Landry and Brooks also continued to hustle and flow with numerous well-timed buckets
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Thankfully, Robin Lopez, Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, and other bench players came alive in the fourth, hitting key shots and forcing crucial turnovers until Nash caught fire again to help the Suns pull away for good. Grant Hill also capped things off with a pair of free throws to finish off the Rockets with less than a minute to play.
Phoenix (23-13) continues a three-game home stand on Friday with a battle against the visiting Miami Heat. The South Florida squad has had a middling season thus far, as evidenced by their 17-16 won-loss record (5-5 in the last 10 games). The Suns toppled the team 104-96 during their first meeting back in November, thanks to some timely defense (something Phoenix has been hit-and-miss with all season).
They'll definitely need it when facing off against the Heat's Dwyane Wade (the NBA's reigning scoring champ), who's as potent as always from the paint, as his 44 points in last night's OT loss to the Boston Celtics demonstates. Another threat is journeyman point guard Carlos Arroyo, who's recent hot streak earned him a guaranteed contract for the rest of the season with Miami.
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. TV: KUTP 45. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. More info: www.suns.com.