Suns Wallop Rockets in Last Game Before Break
Phoenix 109, Houston 75
PHOENIX, Feb. 16 (Ticker) -- The Phoenix Suns roared into the All-Star break while the Houston Rockets seemed to start it early.
All-Star Steve Nash collected 21 points and eight assists while Western Conference teammate Shawn Marion added 16 points and 12 rebounds as the Suns rolled to a 109-75 triumph over the Rockets in the final game before All-Star Weekend, which will be in Houston.
"We didn't have that energy and those guys came out and didn't cash it in before the break," said Rockets All-Star Tracy McGrady, who scored just 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting. "It was flat out ugly. Credit those guys for not throwing in the towel before the game and discredit us because we did."
Phoenix scored the first six points and took a 17-5 lead on a 3-pointer from Raja Bell, who scored 15 points, just under five minutes into the contest and never were threatened after that.
"We wanted to establish ourselves early and let them know we were here to play," Bell said. "It is easy to have a letdown the night before you go on the All-Star break, but we wanted to guard against that."
The Suns continued to pour it on in the second period as they scored 32 points to take a 63-31 lead into the break. It was the largest halftime lead in the league this season and Phoenix's biggest advantage since taking a 40-point lead into the locker room on November 10, 1990 against Denver.
"We put nothing into the game," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "It was not just effort. Shot making, handling the ball, discipline, quickness, we were inferior in all those areas tonight. When you put very little into the game, you get very little out of the game."
Houston's other All-Star starter, Yao Ming, was held to just six points. Yao, David Wesley and Juwan Howard shot a combined 0-of-7 from the floor in the first half.
"We were able to keep the game at a pace that that rendered Yao and their other big men," Bell said. "If we hadn't pushed the pace, it might have been a different story, but we kept pushing and made them miss."
"This was probably the best defensive effort we've had all year and obviously our offense was good," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We hit them with everything we had and we played as well as we can play."
It was more of the same in the third quarter as the Suns made 10 of their first 13 shots in the session before eventually building a 102-55 advantage with 10:34 remaining.
"I know they didn't have a great night but we were pretty good," said Nash, who shot 9-of-10 from the field. "It is pretty tough to compete with that. We had a great performance. We moved the ball great the whole night. We were very active and focused. It was a pretty dominating effort at both ends."
The 34-point loss was the largest margin of defeat this season for the Rockets, who fell to 3-23 when scoring fewer then 90 points.