Suns Sail Past Rockets
Phoenix 100, Houston 88
HOUSTON, Nov. 23 (Ticker) -- Shawn Marion and James Jones helped the Phoenix Suns negate their huge size disadvantage by being consistent from the outside.
Marion collected 19 points and 10 rebounds while Jones made five 3-pointers en route to a season-high 19 points as the Suns posted a 100-88 triumph over the sliding Houston Rockets.
"We've got to run (Yao)," Marion said. "He's a big dude. When you get him moving all the time, he's not effective."
Phoenix used better team speed and 14-of-27 shooting from the arc as it never trailed. Marion, who was just 1-of-21 from the arc coming into the game, hit three of his four from 3-point range against the Rockets.
"When Shawn makes that jumper, it opens up things for everyone," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Threes are a big part of our game."
"We didn't do a good job defensively," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We played as a very tired team tonight."
The Suns also frustrated Yao by using their quickness to repeatedly deny him the ball and ultimately held the All-Star to just eight points, ending a streak of 54 games in double figures.
"It's difficult to do when you've got guys flying around," Marion said. "It's a good sign (for us playing better defense). Without Amaré, we're a different team."
Yao was also unable to guard any of the quicker players on the defensive end, forcing Van Gundy to sit down the big man.
"Tonight we were playing to their strengths," said Yao, who played just 27 minutes. "It was high speed, 100 miles per hour running the court."
Phoenix had a 12-point advantage before the Rockets went a 15-3 run, capped by a steal and layup by rookie Luther Head with 7:15 left in the third quarter to level the contest.
Jones responded with a pair of 3-pointers as Phoenix had a 9-0 surge over the next six minutes and never were threatened thereafter. Houston closed within 84-77 with just over seven minutes left, but a second 9-0 burst by Phoenix put away the game.
"It was the flow of the game tonight," Jones said. "We were able to get out and run early, put pressure on them. I happened to be the guy who was open on the wing. I felt I missed too many open shots."
Houston has lost five in a row overall and fell to 0-6 without All-Star Tracy McGrady. The superstar swingman missed his third straight game with a back problem that has hampered him all season.
"Houston is hurting (without McGrady), not that I feel sorry for them," D'Antoni said. "We have our own injuries."
Phoenix received a lift from 6-8 Boris Diaw, who contributed 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Diaw started at center in place of Kurt Thomas, who played 21 minutes and pushed Yao outside his shooting range.
"That's the way we play," said Diaw, a native of France. "Everybody's running, everybody's unselfish, everybody gets a chance to score."
Point guard and reigning MVP Steve Nash made sure of that with 14 assists to add to his NBA lead.
"We've got a lot of good shooters and playmakers on this team," he said.