Rockets Run Roughshod Over Suns
Houston dominant throughout in 99-81 defeat of Phoenix
HOUSTON - There’s very little that could ever be considered ideal about playing a back-to-back in the NBA, much less one that kick-starts an arduous six-game road trip. But if such a scenario possibly could include at least a hint of perfection, it probably looks an awful lot like the show the Rockets put on Friday night while extinguishing the Suns 99-81.
Houston spent a relatively leisurely evening running over, around and through its overmatched opponent, making the end result appear exceedingly easy in the process. And while it surely wasn’t quite as simple as it looked, the Rockets’ dominance was never in doubt, reverberating throughout Toyota Center from start to finish.
Indeed, Houston seized control of the game in the first quarter and never came close to letting it go. The Rockets owned a 20-point lead by halftime and not once saw their advantage dip below double-digits the rest of the way. It was a thoroughly convincing win for a club in need of just such a victory – both because it snapped a two-game losing skid and arrived right as the Rockets were prepping to embark upon their longest road trip of the season.
“It felt good, especially with the previous two games the way we’d been playing,” said Patrick Patterson, who combined with the rest of the Rockets’ second unit to give the club 50 points off its bench. “I thought we all, the first group and the second group, brought a lot of energy. Each person on this team affected the game in a positive way and, overall, it just felt good to control the game. It felt good to pretty much be ahead the whole time and not have to worry about anything,”
It truly was a total team effort from the Rockets, with seven players tallying double-digit point totals. Houston also dominated the boards, doing an especially good job on the offensive glass, and pounded Phoenix in the paint. But at the end of the night, perhaps no statistic stood out more than the fact that no Houston starter played more than 28 minutes, with Courtney Lee serving as the one and only Rocket who played as many as 30. That sort of efficiency of action can only help Houston going forward, especially as it now sets sail for an 11-day trip that begins with a big matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday night.
“We definitely needed it,” said Kyle Lowry, who stuffed the stat sheet with 5 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals in a tidy 24 minutes of action. “We’re going on the road and heading to a tough place tomorrow but starting off like this with a win tonight was huge for us and our confidence … it was good for us to get rest, so we can prepare for tomorrow and come out with a lot of energy.”
(On the upcoming road trip) “I've always said there's a flow out there in the year and now we have a six-game road trip coming up. You have to have good ball movement and good defense. We've got to find our share of how to win these games coming up.”
(On the play) “He's (Kevin Martin) going to score no matter what you do. He finds ways to score. If we get ball movement, body movement, get stops and get out and run then these guys are best when it's a transition game and there's a flow. What we've got to be able to do is when a game slows down and it gets a little bit more pressure and they start pushing up and taking away in transmission, we've got to get body movement and ball movement against half-court stuff. That's our next real hurdle and we have to keep on rebounding.”
(On the alley oop play at the beginning of the game) “It was just a read on the cut. Kyle (Lowry) was a great passer and he put it right on the plate for me. I just got up there and finished a great pass.”
(On the win) “It feels great especially with our schedule coming up. It was huge for us to come out and play the way we did, to really, really beat them the way we did. It was good. It was a confidence booster to come out here and stop the losing streak of two games. We just really played well and tried to put it all together and try to get our guys rested because we have another game tomorrow night. “
(On the win) “It's always good to gain some confidence. We lost two in a row so we definitely needed a confidence builder and knowing that we're going on this long road trip. It's going to be a very tough road trip for us. This game was great for us. We played very well. Everybody played well out there tonight and our defense was back to where it should be.”
(On if the defensive intensity contributes to winning) “We've got to play like we did tonight and really focus in on the defensive end. Not let them go off one quarter for 30 points that quarter. That's where we're letting down right now. We're not playing 48 minutes and that's what the coach has been preaching to us. As for us, we really need to play 48 minutes. So, it's something we're still trying to do. Hopefully, each game will get better at that and just continue to grow.”
(On the win) “It was very important to break the losing streak. Very important. It's going to give us some momentum going into the road trip. Hopefully, we can carry it over. We got over the losing streak, now it's time to build a winning streak.”
(On controlling the game) “It felt good to me to be able to have a lead. We kind of got stagnant for a little period in the 4th quarter but it felt good to maintain it and keep that lead because the game before we lost a big lead. Today we were able to hold on to it.”
(On controlling the game) “It felt good, especially with the previous two games the way we've been playing. I thought we came out there, the first group and the second group, the people on the bench, I thought we all brought a lot of energy. Each person on this team effected the game in a positive way and overall, it just felt good to control the game. It felt good to pretty much be ahead the whole time and not have to worry about anything.”
PHOENIX SUNS COACH ALVIN GENTRY
(On his team’s play) “I was displeased with our energy level. When you play this team you have to play grown-up basketball and we didn’t do that. We got pushed around and the end results was what it was. We need to play harder and play grown man basketball and not get pushed around and be able to make plays. You have to compete and match energy with energy. I wasn’t pleased with anything we did. There were no bright spots and no moral victories. We have to do a much better job than what we did and come out with energy and that’s on me since I’m the coach.”
(On the Rockets) “This team has had a lot of success because they play extremely hard. Houston’s bench played hard, executed and ran down loose balls. They did everything they are suppose to do”
(On the game) “We were having problems scoring. We hung pretty close for the first eight minutes or so then instead of going back to getting the game closer, we let it get away from us.”
(On the Rockets bench) “They had a lot of guys do a lot of things. Patterson, Chase and a bunch of guys came in to score double figures. Their bench played with good energy and did a good job.”
(On the game) “In the second quarter it really got away from us. It was close in the first quarter but Houston is too good of a team to let them get up 20 points at half. It was disappointing that our effort wasn’t there.”
(On the team’s play) “We came out without any energy and we could never find our rhythm. They came out strong and with a lot of energy. We were not ready to play either physically or mentally. We didn’t have the best effort. I’m trying to do as much as possible and it is very frustrating.”
(On the game) “Houston set the tone early. They got offensive rebounds and we didn’t do what we needed to. Their bench played very well. We have to play as a team and make them switch up their game plan.”
The Rockets racked up a 99-81 win over the Suns tonight. With a 95-93 victory last season vs. Phoenix (3/14/11), Houston recorded its first consecutive wins over the Suns since a three-game streak from 4/11/08-3/6/09.
With tonight’s 99-81 victory, Houston has now recorded 21 consecutive victories when holding an opponent under 90 points, including a 9-0 mark in such games this season.
Houston went a season-best 17-of-17 from the free throw line tonight, going perfect from the stripe for the first time since an 11-of-11 outing at Atlanta (1/15/11).
The Rockets outrebounded the Suns by 49-39 (+10) tonight, marking the fourth time this season Houston has recorded a double-digit rebounding differential over its opponent. The Rockets actually took the battle of the boards by 18 (51-33) in the first meeting with Phoenix last season at Houston (11/22/10).
Houston had seven players in double-figure scoring tonight. It was the first time the Rockets have accomplished that since vs. San Antonio (4/1/11).
Chase Budinger posted 12 points (5-5 FT FG) and 10 rebounds tonight, giving his three career double-doubles.
Jordan Hill (3), Patrick Patterson (2) and Chandler Parsons (2) helped the Rockets match their season high with nine blocked shots.
Courtney Lee (12), Patrick Patterson (12) and Goran Dragic (10) joined Chase Budinger in double-digit scoring, leading to a 50-point night by the Houston bench.
Kevin Martin finished with 16 points (6-9 FG, 3-3 FT) in just 17:40 of action. In his previous six games played, Martin had notched 20-plus points in each outing.
Kyle Lowry recorded five points (2-2 FT), nine assists, eight boards and two steals tonight. Overall, Lowry has a career-best three 10-plus rebounding games on the season: 10 at L.A. Lakers (1/3/12), 11 at Charlotte (1/10/12) and 10 at Minnesota (1/23/12). It ranks tied for the most in the NBA by a guard this season (three by Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans).
Luis Scola notched 14 points (7-17 FG) and eight boards, including five of Houston’s 14 offensive rebounds.
Marcin Gortat led the Suns with 15 points (7-11 FG), 12 rebounds, three blocks and two steals tonight. Gortat now has 14 double-doubles on the season, including 13 in the last 14 games. He also has double-digit rebounding totals in each of the last 14 outings (1/10/12-2/3/12), which stands as the longest active streak in the NBA and the second longest overall (Minnesota’s Kevin Love with 15 from 12/26/11-1/20/12).
Jared Dudley also had 15 points (5-10 FG, 2-4 3FG) and three steals tonight. Dudley now has 13 double-digit scoring efforts this season (Suns record: 7-6).
Steve Nash, who has twice dished 16 assists at Houston (11/17/09 and 1/31/10), handed out a team-high nine dimes for the Suns.