Notebook: Suns 119, Rockets 112



Posted Apr 16, 2013 2:11 AM

Mike Tulumello, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: The Houston Rockets had a clear path to the No. 6 seed in the West entering Monday night.

They don't any longer, not after they put up little defensive resistance as the Suns ran them off the floor in Phoenix, 119-112.

The Rockets (45-36) now would fall all the way to No. 8 if they lose their season-closer in Los Angeles on Wednesday night.

The Lakers, who are battling to make the playoffs, might have even more to play for, noted the Rockets Jeremy Lin. "But we can't see it that way," Lin said.

The win moved the Suns to 25-56, giving them the NBA's fourth-worst record, one game ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Luis Scola, once again playing center because of injuries, led a small Suns lineup that the Rockets failed to defend. Scola had 26 points and 15 boards.

"They got pretty much whatever they wanted," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said.

Lin said, "We came out flat. They were too comfortable shooting open jumpers."

Also for the Suns, P.J. Tucker scored a career-high 21 points. Goran Dragic had 21 points and 14 assists.

Rockets star James Harden banged his knee early and didn't have it. Harden, often guarded by Tucker, shot just 5-for-18 and 6-for-11 from the line.

"P.J. Tucker did an unbelievable job guarding Harden," Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said.

Chandler Parsons had 24 points to lead the Rockets. Carlos Delfino added 23 off the bench, and Lin scored 20 but only four in the second half.

Terrence Jones, who blocked six shots, "did the best job of the bigs," McHale said. But his team couldn't stop the smaller Suns, a situation that may attract the notice of the Rockets' playoff opponent.

QUOTABLE: "In New England, the marathon kind of starts spring. It's a huge deal. To have this happen is a shame."

-- McHale on the terrorist attack in Boston

THE STAT: The Suns' franchise-record seven-game home losing streak is over.

TURNING POINT: The Suns put up 39 points in the first quarter, their best for a quarter this season. Though the Rockets led briefly late in the first half, they never could stop the Suns. "They had control of it the whole night," McHale said.

QUOTABLE II: "I haven't been looking for any indications ... That will be totally up to them."

-- Hunter on how his job status will be up to Suns' management figures. "We have gotten better on both sides of the ball. The only unfair thing is having Scola play out of position (at center, because of injuries). It makes it hard on him. ... We are sharing the ball and scoring more easily..." If the interim tag is removed, Hunter said he would change "small things," including "how we dress and the way we do things in the locker room ... neater." In general, he said, "I've been a little tougher than what they're accustomed to."

HOT: Scola shot 11-for-16.

NOT: The Rockets' defense.

ROOKIE WATCH: Kendall Marshall had eight points, four assists and just one turnover in 28 minutes for the Suns.

NOTABLE: The Suns will end up with their second-worst season in their 45-year history. Only their expansion year of 1968-69 (16-66) was worse. ... Dragic will end up as the Suns' leader in scoring, assists and steals. ... Scola needs only to play Wednesday at Denver to play in a full 82-game season for the fourth time in his six-season NBA career. ... Lin is finishing his season on a tear. Over the past six games, he's averaged 18.3 points on 46 percent shooting, 5.5 assists and 2.7 turnovers. ... Though his season has been disappointing, over the past five games, the Suns' Markieff Morris has shot 12-for-16 on 3-pointers and has averaged 16.2 points.

UP NEXT: For the Rockets, Wednesday @ L.A. Lakers. For the Suns, Wednesday @ Denver.