Rockets race past Suns in fourth quarter

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 10, 2012
Luis Scola scored 16 points, Patrick Patterson added 14 and the Houston Rockets outlasted the Phoenix Suns 96-89 on Thursday night. Chase Budinger and Kyle Lowry each scored 12 points, as the Rockets used a 57-13 edge in scoring from their backups to win their third straight and fourth in five games. Channing Frye, playing the entire second half, scored a season-high 21 points, and Marcin Gortat added 16 for the Suns, whose season-best three-game winning streak was snapped. Steve Nash, selected to his eighth All-Star Game earlier Thursday, scored 14 points on 7 for 7 shooting and added 13 assists. The Rockets held the Suns to five field goals and 13 points in the fourth quarter and had 22 second-chance points to Phoenix's six. Michael Redd scored on a layup with 8:14 remaining to give the Suns an 81-80 lead, but Jordan Hill hit a 17-footer and Courtney Lee added a pull-up jumper to give the Rockets the lead for good at 84-81 with 7:30 to go. The Suns pulled to 92-89 on Gortat's free throws with 2:18 left and had a chance to tie it with a three-pointer. But Kyle Lowry tipped a crosscourt lob pass into the Suns' backcourt, sprinted to the ball and made a layup to give Houston a 94-89 lead. Two Phoenix offensive fouls in the final minute sealed the victory for the Rockets. The Rockets' backups dominated play throughout the game, outscoring the Suns' reserves 17-3 over the first 6-plus minutes of the second quarter. Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry responded by playing four of his five starters the entire third quarter and Gortat and Frye the entire second half rather than using the bench players. The backups were a combined 1 for 15 from the floor in the first half. Redd provided all but two of the 13 points for the Suns' backups, who played only a combined 56 minutes. NOTES: The Rockets attempted only six free throws, making four. Houston did not go to the line in the first half. ... Houston G Goran Dragic matched a season high with 11 assists. ... Markieff Morris had the Suns' other two points off the bench. ... Gortat played 41-plus minutes, one below his career high. ... Suns SF Grant Hill was the only starter to come off the floor for Phoenix in the third quarter, giving way to Redd.
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