Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 3/19/12
It's been a different star each night for the Suns over this 11-3 run that has them back in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. On Sunday, it was Michael Redd's turn to shine brightest. Redd had his biggest night since joining the team, scoring 25 points -- including a run of 15 straight points over a six-minute stretch of the second quarter -- as the Suns wrapped up a run of four wins in five nights with a rare comfortable win, taking the lead three minutes in and never giving it back in a 99-86 win over the short-handed Houston Rockets. Redd hit his first five shots, finished 10 for 13 for the night and brought back memories of his All-Star, pre-knee-surgeries form. "That's a vintage Mike Redd performance," coach Alvin Gentry said. "He gets on a roll and he gets really difficult to guard." The Suns are now over .500 for the first time this year at 23-22 and have pulled within a half-game of the Rockets (24-22) for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. There is no room to breathe, but there's a lot to gain. Phoenix is tied for ninth with Utah but is also just four games behind the fourth-place Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference standings. The Suns have won seven of their last nine games against teams ahead of them in the West. What has brought all this on? "I think that the chemistry has just come together," Gentry said. "I don't know how that happens, and nobody can tell you how that happens, but I think our guys feel pretty good about themselves. Our bench is starting to play better. Because of that, I think guys are starting to feel more comfortable in their roles and our defense has been much better." NOTES, QUOTES -- The Suns have their first four-game winning streak of the season and their first four-game winning streak in more than a year (Feb. 23-28, 2011). And it came in a five-day span with three wins over teams they are battling for playoff position in the Western Conference (Utah, the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston). The last time the Suns played four games in five nights, in January, they lost all four. Phoenix has two win streaks of three games or more in the 10 games since the All-Star break after recording just one such run before the break in 34 games. "We beat some good teams -- teams that are ahead of us, teams that are in the playoff hunt," Suns forward Grant Hill said. "So we were playing with confidence and we just sort of have a good feel, good flow, a good rhythm offensively." -- The Suns have made the most of a long stretch of home cooking, with the win over the Rockets ending a run of 12 home games out of 14 overall. The schedule now flip-flops, as the Suns will play eight of the next 10 on the road, starting with a tough stretch this week that sends them to Miami, Orlando and Indiana before ending in Cleveland. "I thought early on in the year we actually played a little better on the road," Hill said. "We started to sort of solve the problem at home." A key to success on the road will be the play of the bench. On Sunday, the Suns' reserves outscored the Rockets' backups 47-36, led by Michael Redd's 25-point explosion. It was the highest total for the Suns' bench since Dec. 31, 2011, at Oklahoma City. QUOTE TO NOTE: "For the first time in a while, we played well from the first minute. Chemistry is just outstanding now. Everybody feels good, and hopefully we're going to get a couple of wins on the road right now." -- Suns center Marcin Gortat. ROSTER REPORT -- Robin Lopez had another strong outing off the bench, barely missing his fourth double-digit scoring effort in the last six games. He finished with eight points, three rebounds and two blocks in 16 minutes off the bench behind Marcin Gortat. Gortat had 15 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes, giving the Suns a lot of production from the center spot. -- F Channing Frye is averaging 18.0 points and 8.2 rebounds in his last five games while shooting 33 of 64 (.516) from the field and 18 of 34 (.529) from 3-point range. Frye has recorded a season-high six straight double-digit scoring efforts, and the Suns are 5-1 during that span. -- G Michael Redd scored a game-high and season-high 25 points Sunday night, his second 20-point effort and third game of 17 or more points with the Suns. It was Redd's best game in a reserve role this season; his two other games of 17-plus points came in spot starts on Feb. 4 against Charlotte and Feb. 14 at Denver.
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