James Harden flirted with a triple-double, and the Houston Rockets rode a balanced scoring attack to a 113-102 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday at Toyota Center in Houston.
Harden finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, as Houston improved to 3-0 against the Suns this season despite failing to record a basket over the final seven-plus minutes of the game. The Rockets took a 107-93 lead on a Ryan Anderson 3-pointer at the 7:35 mark and then withstood a late surge keyed by Suns guard Devin Booker and forward T.J. Warren.
Booker and Warren combined to score 17 consecutive points for the Suns to slice a 15-point deficit to 109-101 with just under three minutes remaining. Booker, making his second consecutive start at point guard, finished with 31 points and 10 assists. Warren added 24 points.
Chris Paul added 17 points and five assists for the Rockets while Luc Mbah a Moute and Eric Gordon tallied 13 points apiece off the Houston bench. Anderson also scored 13 points, and Clint Capela chipped in a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets.
Houston forward Trevor Ariza suffered a left leg injury one minute into the game and did not return.
The second quarter was a quagmire, with the teams combining for 31 free throw attempts. Phoenix, which did not make a trip to the charity stripe in the first quarter, shot 16-of-18 from the line in the second. By the 8:20 mark of the period, the Suns had scored 13 points, 11 from the line. And despite converting one field goal during that span, Phoenix trailed by only 38-37.
It wasn’t until a late first-half flurry that Houston managed some breathing room, with three field goals inside the final two minutes yielding a 60-53 halftime lead.
The Suns pulled even at 62-62 early in the third quarter before the Rockets finally caught a rhythm, with Harden, Mbah a Moute and Gordon all sinking treys during a 19-7 run that lifted Houston to an 81-69 lead.
--Field Level Media