Rockets win on goaltending call

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 09, 2013
Jermaine O'Neal was called for goaltending on James Harden's last-second 3-point shot and the Houston Rockets defeated the Phoenix Suns 101-98 on Tuesday night. Harden scored 33 points and Omer Asik tied his career high with 22 rebounds for the Rockets, who needed a win and a Utah loss to Oklahoma City to clinch a playoff berth. On the final play, Harden dribbled down the clock and shot his 3 from the wing. It bounced high off the rim and O'Neal tipped it as it came down, just after the buzzer sounded. Referees huddled on the court, then reviewed the play and ruled it the winning basket, setting off a wild celebration. The Suns have lost 10 in a row. Jeremy Lin had 13 points and six assists and Francisco Garcia scored 15 for Houston. Luis Scola scored 28 points to lead Phoenix. Both teams were sloppy much of the night and combined for 27 turnovers. The Suns went 9 for 23 from the field in the third quarter, but trailed only 78-74. Patrick Beverley stole the ball from Kendall Marshall and raced for a two-handed dunk, then threaded a pass to Terrence Jones for another jam as the Rockets stayed in front early in the fourth quarter. But the Suns converted a turnover and a missed shot into back-to-back fast breaks and O'Neal scored over the 7-foot Asik to put Phoenix up 91-90. Scola scored twice and Harden was whistled for an offensive foul as the Suns hung onto a slim lead heading into the last 3 minutes. Harden made the two free throws to pull Houston within one, at 95-94. Lin sank a pull-up jumper in the lane to put the Rockets up 96-95, but Scola calmly sank another hook shot with 1:39 to go and Phoenix moved back ahead. O'Neal blocked an Asik shot, and Scola's free throw with 53.5 seconds left made it 98-96. O'Neal fouled Lin on a drive with 35 seconds left, and Lin sank the free throws to tie it again. Scola missed a finger roll, the Rockets rebounded and called time out to set up the final play. The Rockets went 6 for 30 from 3-point range and Harden's shot looked like it was going to miss, too. Garcia, starting again for Chandler Parsons, sank consecutive 3-pointers and Houston opened an early eight-point lead. Parsons sat out for the third straight game with a right calf strain. The Suns missed 14 of 20 shots in the first quarter. Jermaine O'Neal, back after missing the Suns' last game with a bruised shin, started 0 for 5 from the field. Dudley started the second quarter with a 3-pointer, then got whistled for a technical foul for shoving Beverley as the fought for a loose ball. Houston's shooting slipped in the second quarter, and Scola flipped in a hook shot to cut the deficit to 38-36. The Rockets went 6 minutes without a field goal until Greg Smith broke free inside for a dunk. But Wesley Johnson sank a deep jumper and Scola hit a mid-range shot to put Phoenix up 49-47 with just over a minute left in the half. The Suns led 53-51 at the break after the Rockets went 7 for 17 from the field and gave away seven turnovers in the second quarter. Both teams coughed up sloppy turnovers that led to easy baskets early in the third quarter. The Rockets managed to build an eight-point lead after Smith made an acrobatic move to score on an alley-oop pass from Lin. Markieff Morris sank a 3-pointer and Scola converted a three-point play to keep Phoenix close. NOTES: The Suns are 2-15 since losing Marcin Gortat to a season-ending injury on March 6. ... Suns F Michael Beasley was not with the team after the birth of his daughter on Monday. ... Rockets F Carlos Delfino sat out with flu-like symptoms. ... The Rockets assigned C Tim Ohlbrecht to Rio Grande Valley, its developmental league affiliate.
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