Suns fizzle late, fall to Rockets

slider phoenix_sunsAll good things must come to end.

You certainly don’t have to remind the Suns.

The Houston Rockets, who arrived in the Valley in the wee hours Thursday following a win in Portland just hours earlier, pulled away late for 96-89 win. 

The Suns (11-15) had no answer for the Rockets (16-11) bench who outscored Phoenix 57-13.

“Their second unit really controlled the game.” head coach Alvin Gentry said after the loss. “They did a great job. You have to give them credit.”

Phoenix started fast when Channing Frye took a pass on the wing from Steve Nash and dunked over Samuel Dalembert who fouled him on the way to the basket. Moments later Nash assisted a Frye jumper pushing the Suns lead to 14-6 in the games opening three minutes.

The Suns would take a 29-26 lead into the second quarter before Houston would re-take their lead for the first time since early in the contest behind a pair of former Arizona Wildcats. Chase Budinger (12 points, 7 rebounds) and Jordan Hill (10 points, 6 rebounds) hit consecutive buckets and Houston outscored the Suns 28-15 to take a 54-44 lead into the half. Marcin Gortat would lead all first half scorers with 11 points, while forward Luis Scola (team-high 16 points) paced the Rockets with 10.

Gentry’s team started the third quarter like they did the first, pushing the tempo and getting transition baskets. A Nash jumper following a Rockets timeout tied the game at 57 and Jared Dudley’s second three-pointer put the Suns back up three midway through the quarter.

Five-straight points by Budinger cut the Suns lead to 76-74 going into the fourth quarter.

The Rockets bench continued to play well into the fourth and took a two-point lead midway through the quarter on Budinger’s second three-pointer. Former Sun Goran Dragic extended the lead to five with a corner three.

A Kyle Lowry steal and layup followed by an offensive foul on Marcin Gortat kept the lead at five with under a minute to play. He iced the game moments later with two free throws in the closing seconds. 

Frye led the Suns with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Gortat added 16 and nine boards.

“We didn’t take advantage of opportunities and they did,” Frye explained after the loss. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make every play and be perfect at the end. We can’t do that.”

The loss drops the Suns to 5-7 at US Airways Center. 

Phoenix will look to bounce back when they hit the road for a three-game trip starting in Sacramento against the Kings on Saturday night.