Houston Rockets Slip Past Phoenix Suns 113-111

With that awful game against the Golden State Warriors in the Houston Rockets rear-view mirror, it’s time to focus on their next opponent, the Phoenix Suns, which are no walk-in-the-park either.

There were only 3.5 games that separated those two teams — if the playoffs started today, the Rockets would have the 6th seed and the Suns would have the 8th.

They have a team that plays extremely hard and is quite uptempo under the tutelage of Jeff Hornacek, an darn good NBA player and quite refreshing as a basketball coach.  They’re some former Rockets on this roster so it makes sense.

This Suns’ team reminds of how the Rockets were just a few seasons ago.

Competitive but not quite a contender yet.

Hell, I’m sure many of you would make that same case for the Rockets’ current roster.

This time around, the Rockets came out firing as their shooting percentages from all areas stayed at 50 percent and above.

Jan 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Houston Rockets forward Josh Smith (5) dunks the ball in the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The game stayed close until the Rockets went on a 11-0 run starting with a Trevor Ariza culminating with a Corey Brewer floater putting the Rockets up 12 with 1:22 left.  Rockets 30, Suns 18

In between that with 3:31 left, Dwight Howard suffered an ankle sprain coming down off a rebound attempt. It was severe enough to rule him out the game.

After the Suns cut the lead to six with back-to-back threes by Isaiah Thomas, James Harden was able to to sink two free throws to put the Rockets up 32-24 at the end of the 1st.

The Rockets remained in control during the 2nd quarter with leads as high as eight as the Beard ended the quarter with one of the most pronounced, high-flying driving dunks I’ve seen all season!  Rockets 60, Suns 52

Take that Eric Bledsoe!

At the start of the 3rd quarter, out of the gate, Marcus Morris drove in for two pull the Suns within six.  Rockets 60, Suns 54

This run starting with a Josh Smith fade away causing the Rockets compiled an 8-0 run to put the Rockets up 69-58 and ending with a Smoove power dunk.

After a Suns’ timeout, Bledsoe scored a quick two off a jump shot.  Rockets 69, Suns 60

Patrick Beverley stepped his defense up a notch and it showed on a heads-up play with 6:19 left.

Beverley fought hard to keep the play alive and blocked the hell out of Dragic on a drive, giving the ball back to the Rockets.

This frustrated Dragic causing him to get a technical foul and Gerald Green had to quickly sub in for him to prevent any additional escalation for an ejection.

Jan 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) celebrates after hitting the game winning shot at the buzzer against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Rockets defeated the Suns 113-111. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Smoove was all over the place during the quarter, shooting turnaround fall-away jumpers, dunks and blocking anybody that came within his path.

It makes one wonder what did D12 tell him at halftime?  Interesting.

Nice sequence was with 2:47 left, Smoove blocked Brandan Wright, rebounded by Joey Dorsey and the Rockets moved quickly down the court.

Harden found an open Dorsey to put in a nice two-hander to put the Rockets up 82-69!

This play all transpired within a matter of 10 ticks off the game clock!  Wow!

The Rockets held on to still stay on top 87-77 at the end of the 3rd quarter.

It was more of the same for the 4th quarter as Rockets went up by 12 after a D-Mo jumper but then there was nearly a two-minute spell where both teams went cold.

Marcus Morris broke the ice with a put-back layup with 8:10 left.  Rockets 91, Suns 81

Then Ariza countered with a wide-open three near the right, top-side of three-point line to put the Rockets up by 13.  Rockets 94, Suns 81

You’d think the game would be over by now but it wasn’t.

The Suns went on a 12-4 run to close within three with a Marcus Morris free throw off a Harden foul.  Rockets 106, Suns 103

For the next few minutes it seemed to be a game of chess between Harden and Morris all the way until the end.

Morris would hit a big shot, Harden would counter with one of his own.

Marcus Morris tied the game at 111-all with 16 seconds left off a free throw on a unnecessary Dorsey foul — he could’ve just let him by go by with such little time left and the Rockets being by three points!

Jan 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shoots the game winning shot at the buzzer against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Rockets defeated the Suns 113-111. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After a timeout called by the Rockets to advance to half-court, a play was drawn for Harden to take the ball up at the top of key, to which he sunk a ferociously clutch jumper with no time on the clock!  Final Score: Rockets 113, Suns 111

Game, set, match…CHECKMATE!

Harden led all scorers with 33 points, 10 assists, six rebounds including 3-for-6 from the three-point line and 14-for-17 from the charity stripe.

Smoove had 14 points, three rebounds, three assists and two blocks as he held down the fort for D12 in 25 minutes of action.

Beverley had 14 points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocks while holding Dragic to two points and 1-for-5 shooting.

Brew added 14 points in 21 minutes off the bench.

What a win!

The Rockets take on the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday at STAPLES Center.

Tip-of is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. CST.

The game will be televised on ROOT Sports Southwest and broadcast on 790 AM (KBME).

Go Rockets!