PHOENIX, Nov. 15 (Ticker) -- Stephon Marbury
's driving layup with six seconds left lifted the Phoenix Suns to their fourth straight victory, an 88-87 triumph over the Houston Rockets.
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Marbury was just 5-of-15 from the field before he lofted a soft runner high off the backboard to erase an 87-86 deficit.
"Coach pretty much said, 'Go to the basket as hard as you can,'" Marbury said. "In those situations, you have to go to the
"We had good defense," Rockets guard Steve Francis said. "He threw the ball up and, you know, it went in. That was the type of defense we were playing the whole game. He was fortunate enough to make the big shot."
The Rockets had a chance to pull out the win, but Francis' penetration was cut off and Eddie Griffin failed to convert a
"I was trying to go to the bucket," Francis said. "If I couldn't get to the bucket, I was trying to kick it back
"(It was the same play as Marbury's), we cleared out a hole and he tried to drive into it," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "They ran a guy in there and he popped it out to the open guy. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't."
Both teams had ample chances to pull away, but Marbury's basket was the only one over the final two minutes.
"We knew (Francis) was going to get the ball at the end and they knew I was going to get the ball and try to create," Marbury
said. "This win, a close one, is very important to us. We needed it for our confidence because we have been winning ugly."
"Steph did a heck of a job on Steve Francis tonight," Suns coach Frank Johnson said. "He held him to 5-for-18 from the field
and he's been averaging 30 points a game."
Shawn Marion scored a season-high 27 points for the Suns, who ended a two-game slide against the Rockets with their third consecutive home win.
Francis led Houston with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists but was just 5-of-18 from the field. Maurice Taylor added 14 points in 16 minutes off the bench.
Yao Ming, the top overall pick in the 2002 draft, had his best offensive game, making 5-of-6 shots and scoring 10 points in 14 minutes.
"I can only play about 15 minutes right now," Ming said through an interpreter. "I need to accumulate more NBA experience."
"Yao did a nice job tonight, when we had Amare (Stoudemire) on him, it was a tough matchup for Amare," Johnson said. "He
can play and he's going to be pretty good. You always have to stay into him because if you give him any room, he's skilled
enough where he can make some shots and do some things."
The Rockets led 83-76 after an 18-foot jumper by Taylor with 6:58 to go. The lead was 85-80 following another basket by
Taylor with 5:35 remaining.
Marbury began the Suns' comeback with two free throws with 4:23 to play and Marbury found Marion for an 18-footer just over a
Francis drained a long jumper with 2:59 to go, but Marion's layup 52 seconds later was the last basket until Marbury's
Penny Hardaway had 14 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds and is averaging nearly a triple-double over his last four games.
The Suns' last four-game winning streak came nearly a year ago from Nov. 26-Dec. 3, 2001.
The Rockets were without center Kelvin Cato, who suffered a death in his family. Jason Collier started at center and had
two points and two rebounds in six minutes.