After trailing by as many as 21, the Rockets defeated the Phoenix Suns 104-103 in a thrilling finish at Toyota Center Friday night. The win for the Rockets marked their 62nd win of the season and their 11th consecutive victory.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Rockets had not even sniffed a single-digit deficit. As the quarter progressed, the atmosphere and momentum began to shift but it failed to get over the hump exactly.
James Harden missed two free throws with the team down four points with a little over a minute to play in regulation. On the ensuing possession, P.J. Tucker, tonight’s unsung hero, split his free throws and cut the deficit to three points. After a miss by Tyler Ulis, Harden pulled up to the top of the key and drained the game-tying three.
With 12 seconds to go, the Suns put the ball in the hands of rookie Josh Jackson, who came through for them and gave the Suns the lead back with 1.4 seconds to go.
While many were quick to rule the Rockets out, one Rocket wearing #14 did not. Trevor Ariza inbounded the ball, found him in the corner, and set the ball free.
Here’s the clip of the final shot from NBATV:
BALLGAME. Rockets win 104-103.
The Rockets were trailing for majority of the contest and did not have a lead in the second half until the final buzzer sounded. The final three points from Green were three of his 15 points on the night in his first start of the season for Houston.
Green got the start because Chris Paul and Eric Gordon both sat out of tonight’s game while nursing minor injuries. Nene also did not suit up for the Rockets tonight.
The amount of people out of the lineup for Houston made it difficult for the team to get into any kind of rhythm on offense. The team shot just 31 percent in the first half and made five of their 22 attempts from downtown. Their lack of offense combined with Phoenix’s well-executed offense and 50 percent shooting from the field in the first half allowed the deficit to balloon to 21.
However, the Rockets began to chip away as soon as the second half began. The lead soon shrunk to 11 at the end of the third and the lead completely vanished once the clock hit triple zeros for the Suns.
Phoenix played a very good game and probably should have won the contest. However, not all the shots fall how they should. Rookie Josh Jackson led all Suns with 27 points, including a go-ahead jumper with 1.4 seconds left to put the Suns up a deuce. Former Rocket Troy Daniels made seven of his 12 shots from beyond en route to a 23-point performance. Tyler Ulis also showed some flashes of a generous floor general in the league with 16 points and 12 assists.
On the Rockets’ side of the box score, Harden led all scorers with 28, but Tucker and Green were huge from the three-point line. The pair combined to shoot 9-18 from beyond and were integral for the Rockets tonight. Joe Johnson also posted a nice 16 points off the bench.
The Rockets were down in this game, but not out, and the win tonight should provide some tough lessons as well as a morale boost. The Rockets go undefeated on their five-game homestand and now head to San Antonio for a Easter matinee game on ABC with the Spurs. Tipoff is at 2:30 CT.