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Rockets late-game push not enough in loss to the Suns

The Houston Rockets fought hard until the end, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a heartbreaking loss to the Phoenix Suns.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets had one of their best performances of the season against the Phoenix Suns. They shot 54.4 percent from the field, 51.5 percent from deep, but it wasn’t enough as the Rockets sustained a 133-130 loss to the Suns, Monday night inside the Toyota Center in Houston.

With the loss, the Rockets fell to 13-37 on the season while dropping their fifth consecutive game.

Down by nine entering the fourth quarter, it appeared that the Rockets were on the verge of another blowout loss. But instead of folding to the more superior team, the Rockets fought hard late in an attempt to avoid extending their losing streak.

Houston began the fourth quarter down by nine, but a 13-3 run to open the period resulted in the Rockets taking a 105-104 lead with 7:30 left in regulation. The Rockets would go on to outscore the Suns 38-32 in the fourth quarter, and it took a pass deflection by Devin Booker in the closing seconds to prevent Houston from pulling off an upset.

The Rockets’ play in the fourth quarter resembled their performance during the first quarter, where Houston jumped out to an early 11-3 lead to open the game.

Seven players scored in double figures for the Rockets, with Christian Wood leading the way with 23 points (8-21 FG, 3-7 3PT) in the loss. Kelly Olynyk continued his impressive play since arriving in Houston with 21 points, while Jae’Sean Tate added 18 points and seven rebounds.

But Houston’s most significant individual performance against the Suns came from Kevin Porter Jr. The 20-year-old point guard from Seattle nearly pulled off his first career triple-double with 20 points (5-10 FG, 1-3 3PT), nine rebounds and eight assists in 30 minutes. Porter’s near career-best as a Rocket took place a day after his subpar 12-point performance against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.

Devin Booker, the reigning NBA Western Conference Player of the Month, connected on six of his eight 3-point baskets, as the two-time NBA All-Star scored 36 points in the win. DeAndre Ayton poured in 27 points and 11 rebounds, as Chris Paul recorded 19 points and 11 assists in the win.

In addition to his double-double performance, Paul became the fifth player in NBA history to post 500 career 10-assist games. The former Rocket has joined John Stockton, Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash to obtain the achievement.

Following the loss, the Rockets will try to end their five-game losing streak on Wednesday, for a southwest division showdown against the Dallas Mavericks. Tip-off is slated for 6:30 P.M. CT inside the Toyota Center.