Houston at Phoenix

Suns' proficiency from behind arc finishes off Rockets

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns were 3½ minutes away from what would have been a brutal loss. Then, as has happened so often, the 3-pointers started falling.

Amar'e Stoudemire had 35 points and 13 rebounds and the Suns made four 3s in a row to pull away for a 116-106 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.

Western Conference
SeedTeamGB
1o-Dallas-
2x-Denver-
3x-Golden State-
4x-Houston-
5y-L.A. Clippers-
6x-L.A. Lakers-
7x-Memphis-
8o-Minnesota-
Still alive
10z-Oklahoma City-
14y-San Antonio-
Eliminated
9o-New Orleans-
11o-Phoenix-
12o-Portland-
13o-Sacramento-
15o-Utah-
Complete Playoff Race

Against the Suns, Rockets coach Rick Adelman said, "You're rolling the dice."

"If you try to take away the 3s, then you've got Stoudemire rolling down the middle and we don't have anybody to stop him," he said. "And they didn't make them until the last 3 minutes."

Channing Frye made two of the 3s and Steve Nash and Jason Richardson had one apiece in a 14-0 run after the Rockets took a 102-100 lead with 3:23 left.

"They had a hard time on the screen and roll," Stoudemire said. "When I rolled to the basket, they were sucking in and Steve was doing a great job of finding open guys."

The victory moved Phoenix into a tie with Utah and Denver for the third playoff spot in the West, a half-game behind No. 2 Dallas, with two to play. The Suns' final two games are at home against Denver on Tuesday and at Utah on Wednesday.

Nash had 23 points and 11 assists for the Suns, winners of 12 of their last 14.

Luis Scola scored 20 of his 30 points in the second half for the Rockets, who rallied from a 14-point third-quarter deficit. Aaron Brooks added 22 points, including 6 of 9 3-pointers, and Chase Budinger had 19 for Houston.

"You can just look look at the West and see -- that team is a quality team and they're not going to make the playoffs," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said about the Rockets. "They're a real quality team. They're hard to play. Every game we've played them this year it's been like a roller coaster."

And the Suns won all four.

Nash limped off after taking a shot to the leg with 23 seconds to go, drawing a technical foul as he left the court. He said he was not hurt.

"It's not even worth talking about," he said.

The Rockets led 102-100 after Scola's two free throws. Scola drew a foul for bumping Nash during Phoenix's trademark pick-and-roll play on the next possession. The Suns took the ball out of bounds, Scola backed off a bit, and Nash made the 3, his third in three tries, to put Phoenix ahead for good.

Frye followed with a 3-pointer, Richardson got one, then Frye another and it was over.

"They're a smart team," the Rockets' Trevor Ariza said. "They know what to do and they know when to do it."

The Suns led 62-57 at the break and 81-67 after Jarron Collins' inside basket with 4:56 to play in the third quarter. Scola, though, scored eight in a 13-1 surge to cut the lead to 82-80 with 1:18 to go in the quarter. Frye made his first shot of the night and Nash sank a 3-pointer to boost the lead to 87-80. But Scola responded with a driving bank shot, Budinger intercepted Nash's cross-court pass and made a 3-pointer and it was 87-85 entering the fourth.

Jordan Hill scored to start the final period to tie it at 87-87. Brooks' fifth 3-pointer, the first one he had tried since the opening quarter, put Houston ahead 92-91 with 8:44 to go. the Rockets' first lead since midway through the second quarter.

There were three ties and four lead changes after that before the Suns went ahead for good.

Stoudemire set the tone for the late surge when he made a leaping save of a ball headed out of bounds, then got the ball back for a dunk to tie it at 100-100.

"Amare had a monster game," Gentry said, "but it's nothing he hasn't been doing the last two months really."

Brooks made his first 4 3-pointers in the first quarter. While he was 6 of 9 on 3s but only 1 of 9 on 2-pointers.

Notes
  • Houston had won three in a row and four of five.
  • The game featured three former University of Arizona standouts -- Frye for the Suns, rookies Budinger and Hill for the Rockets. A fourth, Suns general manager Steve Kerr, watched from the stands.
  • Injured Suns C Robin Lopez (bulging disk) is to be re-evaluated by a specialist on Monday.
  • Phoenix won its seventh straight home game.
  • Houston's Kevin Martin played only 6 minutes in the third quarter and none in the fourth because of illness, Adelman said.
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Channing Frye buries two key 3s late to propel the Suns to a win over the Rockets. (Getty Images)
Channing Frye buries two key 3s late to propel the Suns to a win over the Rockets. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Houston (41-39) 36212821106
Phoenix (52-28) «33292529116
HOU:L. Scola 30 Pts
HOU:J. Hill 9 Reb
HOU:A. Brooks 6 Ast
PHO:A. Stoudemire 35 Pts
PHO:A. Stoudemire 13 Reb
PHO:S. Nash 11 Ast
Players of the Game
PhoenixHouston

A. Stoudemire

L. Scola
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
351313084
Houston
L. Scola, PF4211-218-1284330
A. Brooks, PG407-182-276422
T. Ariza, SG364-70-055111
K. Martin, SG222-124-41328
C. Hayes, PF211-22-28244
C. Budinger, SF267-102-211119
K. Lowry, PG213-60-04516
J. Hill, PF181-40-09132
J. Jeffries, PF162-50-12144
J. Taylor, SGDid Not Play
S. Battier, SFDid Not Play
A. Johnson, SFDid Not Play
M. Harris, SFDid Not Play
D. Andersen, CDid Not Play
Y. Ming, CDid Not Play
Totals 38-8518-23452823106
 44.7%78.3% 
Phoenix
A. Stoudemire, PF4114-257-9131435
S. Nash, PG368-124-4111223
G. Hill, SF313-71-25328
J. Richardson, SG304-104-524314
J. Collins, C152-20-03014
C. Frye, C223-100-06148
L. Amundson, PF184-60-24038
J. Dudley, SF170-20-00110
G. Dragic, PG162-55-600210
L. Barbosa, SG142-71-14026
R. Lopez, CDid Not Play
T. Griffin, PFDid Not Play
D. Jones, PFDid Not Play
E. Clark, SFDid Not Play
Totals 42-8622-29382124116
 48.8%75.9% 
Other Games
Orl 98 Final
Cle 92
Port 91 Final
LAL 88
Mia 111 Final
NY 98
Chi 104 Final
Tor 88
Min 86 Final
NO 114
OKC 117 Final
GS 120