Booker and Oubre Combine for 51 Points, Suns Fall Just Short to Rockets

by Cody Cunningham

The Phoenix Suns had won five of their last eight games as they traveled to Houston to face the Rockets on Friday night.

The Suns came out firing and looked to be on a role early. Devin Booker got things started for the Suns on offense and the team took off from there. They opened up the game on an 8-0 run, including four points from Deandre Ayton.

The Suns closed out the first quarter leading 31-26, but it was going to take more than that to knock-off the third-seeded Rockets. Houston responded in the second as they claimed a one-point lead with thirty seconds remaining in the half following a James Harden layup.

But the Suns had time for one more answer before the intermission. Dragan Bender grabbed on offensive rebound with three seconds to go and found a wide open Booker. Standing a few feet beyond the arc, Booker set his position, raised up and knocked-down the buzzer-beating three-pointer to regain the lead for the Suns entering halftime.

Booker took over midway through the third quarter as he scored 12 straight points for the Suns and 14 total in the quarter. Despite Booker scoring half the team’s 28 points in the frame, Houston kept it even totaling 28 of their own.

Kenneth Faried quickly tied the game with a dunk in the opening seconds of the fourth. It remained a one-possession game for the majority of the quarter until Harden began heating up.

Harden hit a shot with just under five minutes remaining to give the Rockets a one-point lead. This led to a 7-0 Harden run as Houston began pulling away, up six with two minutes left on the clock.

Booker followed this up with his own 4-0 run to bring the Suns to within just two points with a minute remaining, but it just wasn’t enough as the Rockets ultimately closed out the game at the free throw line, 108-102.

Booker finished with a team-high 29 points to go along with his seven assists and five rebounds. This was Booker’s tenth game of the season with at least 25 points, seven assists and five boards. Only James Harden, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal and Kevin Durant have more.

Kelly Oubre Jr. played a critical role for the Suns on both ends of the court as he scored 22 points on 57.1 shooing, including 3-of-5 from deep. The man known as Tsunami Papi was active on the defensive end grabbing five steals and blocking two shots.

Oubre is one of just five players in the league this season to score 22 points with five steals and two blocks as he joins Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Montrezl Harrell and Jusuf Nurkic. In fact, only nine players have even gotten just five steals and two blocks this year including Oubre.

This was Oubre’s 34th game of the season with at least one block and one steal as he ranks third in the NBA in such games, trailing only Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond.

Ayton notched his rookie-leading 35th double-double of the season with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Richaun Holmes also notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds in just 16 minutes of action.

The Suns have a quick turnaround as they head to New Orleans on Saturday to tip-off against the Pelicans. Be sure to catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.

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