The Suns look to become the first NBA team to 10 wins Tuesday night when they host the Rockets.
Phoenix (9-2), which led the league in scoring last season, is off to another impressive start offensively. The Suns are the only team in the league to score 100 points in every game this season, and though they missed the playoffs last season, they enter Tuesday with the Western Conference’s best record.
Phoenix, which is averaging 110.4 points, is coming off a 101-100 win over Toronto on Sunday, bouncing back after suffering a 19-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. Steve Nash(notes) was fouled while making a game-tying layup with 38.9 seconds remaining, then hit his free throw for the final score.
“We struggled a little bit offensively,” Nash, who finished with 23 points and nine assists, told the Suns’ official Web site. “There were a bunch of in-and-outs on shots I normally make. I can say the same for our team, in general. We weren’t flying offensively tonight, but luckily we found the strength to make the stops down the stretch.”
The Suns shot 50.8 percent in their first nine games but are shooting 40.1 percent in the last two. While Sunday wasn’t their best game offensively, Amare Stoudemire scored a season-high 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting. He went 2 of 15 against the Lakers to finish with a season-low eight points.
While much of the attention has been on their offense, the Suns were also pleased with their defensive effort against the Raptors. Phoenix had given up 113.3 points in the previous three games and it allowed 33 points in the opening quarter before settling down over the next three periods.
“A good win for us against a quality team,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “They present so many problems for you. I thought after the first quarter we were going to have to score 120 points to win.”
Gentry will need another good effort from his team Tuesday as Houston (6-4) has averaged 105.2 points since scoring 87 in a season-opening loss at Portland.
The Rockets haven’t won as consistently as the Suns, but they beat the defending champion Lakers 101-91 on the road Sunday. Houston handed the Lakers their third loss of the season, holding them to 38.1 percent shooting and outrebounding them 60-38.
“I knew tonight was going to be a tough night for me,” Ariza said. “I didn’t play as well, but my teammates played great. Aaron played big for us, and I’m just happy we got a win.”
Ariza, who has spent most of his career coming off the bench, has embraced his starting role with the Rockets, whose top scorers from last season - Tracy McGrady(notes) and Yao Ming(notes) - are both injured. Ariza is averaging 18.4 points, more than double his previous career high.
With Ariza’s help, Houston has scored 100 points or more in nine straight games, the club’s longest streak since a 12-game run during the 1995-96 season.
Despite being one of the lower-scoring teams in the NBA with 98.4 points per game last season, Houston averaged 106.3 while winning two of three against Phoenix. The Suns scored 102.7 points per game in the series.