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Short-handed Rockets fall to Phoenix Suns 124-121

Despite playing without their two-best players, the Houston Rockets fell short against the Phoenix Suns.

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

HOUSTON — Fresh off a 34-point defeat at the hands of the Utah Jazz on Monday, no one gave the Rockets a chance to end their five-game losing streak against the Phoenix Suns.

ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gave the Rockets less than a 10 percent chance to record a victory inside the Footprint Center Wednesday night, stating it was nearly impossible for Houston to complete an improbable upset against Phoenix. Although the Rockets would go on to extend their losing streak to six in a 124-121 loss to the Suns, Phoenix’s win over Houston did not come easy.

With the Suns leading 116-114 with 53 seconds left in the game, it took a costly turnover from Jae’Sean Tate for Phoenix to avoid a substantial upset against the Rockets. After Tate lost the ball out of bounds, the Suns capitalized on the turnover with a second-chance basket by Mikal Bridges to extend Phoenix’s lead to four.

Despite his late-game turnover, Tate still managed to produce one of his best performances of the season with 22 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.

Tate was Houston’s second-highest scorer on the night, as Dennis Schroder led the way for the Rockets with 23 points, nine assists and six rebounds in the loss. Schroder started in place of Kevin Porter Jr., who missed his 18th game of the season due to a non-COVID illness.

The Rockets’ production from their backcourt was not a one-man show, as Jalen Green made his contributions known with 17 points in 35 minutes of action.

Christian Wood missed his fourth game of the 2021-22 campaign for the same reason as Porter, which resulted in rookie big man Alperen Sengun receiving his fourth career start. By filling in for Wood, Sengun registered his third-career double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Sengun did not shy away from going toe-to-toe with Suns’ big man Deandre Ayton, who finished the game with 23 points and nine rebounds in the win.

It’s unfortunate that Houston dropped to 15-42 on the season because they squandered a golden opportunity to record their 16th win of the year.

The Suns’ All-Star backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker struggled during the first half as the duo combined for 20 points. Three minutes into the third quarter, Paul never received an opportunity to find his niche against Houston, as the future Hall-of-Famer’s night came to a premature end due to an ejection.

Paul ended the night with 11 points while Booker — who scored 15 points during the second half — finished the game with a team-high 24 points for Phoenix.

After the loss, the Rockets will attempt to end their losing streak on Thursday against the 29-31 Los Angeles Clippers. Tip-off is slated for 9:30 P.M. CT inside the Crypto.com Arena.