Suns overcome Rockets with second-half rally

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PHOENIX (AP)—The Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets proved that no lead in the NBA is safe—no matter how big.

In a game that saw each team squander 16-point leads—first the Suns, then the Rockets—Phoenix finally prevailed 118-110 on Wednesday night. Steve Nash(notes) led the Suns’ comeback with 26 points and 12 assists and Amare Stoudemire added 25 points and 11 rebounds as four Phoenix players scored at least 20 points and nullified career highs by Houston’s Aaron Brooks(notes) (34 points) and reserve Carl Landry(notes) (31).

“It’s as crazy a game as I’ve ever been in,” said Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry, a 30-year coaching veteran. “I looked at the stat sheet and we had a 16-point lead, then they had a 16-point lead. That’s a 32-point swing.”

It was a fast and furious game marked by a series of remarkable runs. It was the second time this season the Suns had rallied from a 16-point deficit in back-to-back games, their only two wins in eight tries in back-to-backs.

Channing Frye(notes) scored 22 points, hitting six 3-pointers, and Jason Richardson(notes) added 20 points for Phoenix.

Landry also had 10 rebounds for Houston, Trevor Ariza(notes) scored 15 points and Luis Scola(notes) had 11.

This was only the third time this season the defense-minded Rockets had allowed more than 113 points.

“When we got down 16, we knew we were a better team than that,” Stoudemire said, “and we fought back. We hung in there, kept our composure and our focus, and we got the win.”

Nash was surprised at the game’s swings and the Suns’ ability to come back.

“That’s not the way we drew it up,” he said.

“I’ve never seen a game like that,” the veteran Richardson said. “When we were down 16, we knew we had to keep fighting.”

Frye added, “That (swings) is going to happen when you play a fast-paced game.”

The Suns looked like they would run the Rockets off the court quickly, bursting to a 21-5 lead in the first 4:55. The spurt included a 15-0 run, including 3s by Nash and Frye.

Then, Landry came in and made an immediate impact. The Rockets put on an incredible run, outscoring the Suns 51-19 over the next 13:46, and instead of trailing by 16, Houston surged ahead 56-40 with 5:55 left in the half.

At that point, the Suns had scored only four points in the second quarter. A late rally led by Stoudemire helped Phoenix cut the deficit to 60-53 at the half.

The third quarter was another series of runs. The Suns scored the first seven points of the period, tying the game at 60. But Houston answered with an 8-0 streak and was up 70-64 when the Suns countered with an 13-3 spurt, sparked by Nash and Richardson. After that, the teams traded baskets, with Houston leading 86-85 at the end of the period. Nash had 13 points in the quarter.

“I was really disappointed the way we played at the start of the first and third quarters,” Houaton coach Rick Adelman said. “We came back and had a chance but Nash was too good. He just orchestrated everything for them down the stretch.”

Landry said, “We just had breakdowns. Coach told us before the game that this was going to be a game of stretches, where they could get a run going and we could be down, and vice versa. That’s what happened. They got off to a good start and we came back. We kept our composure and tried to keep playing our game, but we had too many breakdowns in ther fourth quarter.”

The hard-fought manner in which the teams played there was no sign that they had played on the road Tuesday night.

NOTES: The Suns lead the league in scoring and are on track to win the NBA scoring title for the fifth time in six years. … In losing 88-79 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, the Rockets failed to hold a lead for the first time this season. … Houston is averaging nearly 100 points per game, its best producton since the 1999-2000 season. … The Rockets already have lost 76 games through illness or injury this season, including 36 by Yao Ming(notes) and 30 by Tracy McGrady(notes).

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Houston
C. Landry Carl Landry
14-23,  31 Pts
10 Rebs, 1 Assists
 Phoenix
S. Nash Steve Nash
11-16,  26 Pts
2 Rebs, 12 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists

Scoreboard

Wednesday, Jan 6