Yesterday had both its highs and lows for the Phoenix Suns.
First the good news: Steve Nash was named to this year's NBA All-Star team as a reserve on Thursday, which shouldn't come as a surprise based on his outstanding play thus far in the season (including leading the league in assists).
And now the bad stuff: Planet Orange saw its three-game winning streak snapped via a 96-89 loss to the Houston Rockets at US Airways Center last night after stumbling for most of the game. Nash provided his usually great performance (14 points, 11 assists) and the Suns had a three-point lead after a good first quarter (where they landed 57 percent of their shots), but the Rockets came back big time in the remaining periods.
Here's basically what happened the entire game: The Suns starters would unleash a flurry of scoring, build a lead, hand things over to their bench, and then watch Houston's reserves stage a comeback. Rinse, lather, repeat.
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For example, Phoenix maintained a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter before Chase Budinger and the Rockets' bench players outscored the Suns 28-3 in the second quarter while killing it on the glass, resulting in a 10-point advantage for Houston at halftime. Nash and company countered with a 16-3 run to start the third period, including a trio of treys from Michael Redd, Channing Frye, and Jarred Dudley.
Unfortunately, the situation duplicated itself as Planet Orange's reserves blew it again and again in the third and fourth quarters (when Houston's tough defense caused missed shots and converted 'em into a variety of second-chance points), while the starters bailed them again each time.
The game came down to the final eight minutes, when Redd's layup gave Phoenix an 81-80 advantage before jumpshots from H-Town's Courtney Lee and Jordan Hill turned the tide for good. Free throws by Marcin Gortat brought the Suns to within three, but botched passes and an easy Rockets layup was the coup de grace.
The Suns (11-15) will lick their wounds before heading out on a three-game road trip that starts out with a visit to Northern California to play the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. For more info, visit www.suns.com.