Notebook: Suns 107, Rockets 105

Posted Mar 10, 2013 1:09 AM

Norm Frauenheim, for

THE FACTS: Goran Dragic came to life in the fourth quarter Saturday night with 13 of his 18 points to lead the Suns to a 107-105 victory over the Rockets at US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix.

The Suns (22-41) appeared to be safely en route to victory when surprising Hamed Haddadi grabbed an offensive rebound, one of his 11 rebounds. Dragic capitalized on the second opportunity with a 14-foot jumper that gave the Suns an eight-point, 101-93, lead with 52.2 seconds left.

During the final seconds, however, the Rockets (34-30) kept the game in doubt, first with a 3-point goal from Carlos Delfino and then another one from James Harden, who finished with a game-high 38 points on 11-for-17 shooting. Harden, who also had 13 in the fourth quarter, was 7-for-10 from the 3-point distance.

Harden's last 3-pointer of the night dropped cleanly through the net with 5.9 seconds left, cutting the Suns advantage to three. With 5.4 seconds left, however, Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas fouled Dragic. Dragic coolly sank both free throw attempts for a margin comfortable enough for a Suns' victory.

QUOTABLE: "I couldn't find a rhythm in the first three quarters. They played me tight. They played good defense. Then going into the fourth, I told the coach: 'Let me make some plays.' There was a sequence there when I hit a jumper and then a driving shot. That's when I really got my confidence.''
-- Goran Dragic

THE STAT: The Suns' 107 points add up to the first time that they have scored more than 100 at home since Dec. 19 with a season-high 121 against Charlotte.

TURNING POINT: On a night when there could have been several, one in the fourth quarter proved to be decisive. Trailing 84-81 with 8:27 left, the Suns went on an 18-8 run to lead by seven, 99-92, with 2:45 left.

QUOTABLE II: "We got jobs. We don't want to lose on purpose. If we did, we might not have jobs next year.''
-- Suns guard Jared Dudley, who after scoring a team-high 22 points was asked about talk that Phoenix would be better off with a defeat that might improve its chances at a high pick in the draft lottery.

HOT: Harden. He was eight points short of his season and career high, 46.

NOT: Luis Scola. He was in a tough spot, at center because of a foot injury that has sidelined Marcin Gortat. At 6-foot-9, Scola was undersized and it showed. He was 1-for-6 from the floor against Houston, his old team.

GOOD MOVE: Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter's decision to give Haddadi some playing time. In addition to his 11 rebounds, Haddadi had three blocks in 28.13 minutes.

BAD MOVE: The Rockets' inability to contain Dragic for the full four quarters. They tried. Jeremy Lin committed six fouls.

IN THE ARENA: The crowd was announced at 16,734, but it looked smaller. It wanted to boo and, early on, it did when hot-and-cold Michael Beasley entered the game midway through the first quarter.

ROOKIE WATCH: Kendall Marshall got a couple of key plays during his 28 minutes, including a diving save and lunging shot in the second half. He finished with nine points and four assists.

FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Delfino. In terms of efficiency, he's not Harden. Who is? But he's efficient enough. Delfino was 8-for-15 from the floor, including 5-for-9 from the 3-point distance, for 21 points. Oh yeah, he also had five assists and only one turnover.

NOTABLE: Gortat said he expects to be in cast for at least two weeks because of a sprain in the middle of his right foot. Then, he says, he'll have a better idea of when he'll be back. ...Rockets coach Kevin McHale wasn't happy. But he also dismissed a suggestion that his team got passive. "No, we did not lose interest,'' McHale said. "We just never re-grouped. We did not execute very well. We did not defend very well. We did not take care of the ball. We did not rebound. There's a lot of stuff we didn't do.'' Didn't win either.

NEXT: For the Rockets, Wednesday vs. Phoenix, Friday vs. Minnesota and March 17 vs. Golden State. For the Suns, Monday vs. Denver, Wednesday @ Houston and Friday @ Atlanta.