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Suns edge Rockets to end home skid

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- Goran Dragic and the Phoenix Suns gave their final home crowd of the season a rare game to remember.

Dragic had 21 points and 14 assists, and the Suns ran past the Houston Rockets 119-112 Monday night to snap a seven-game home losing streak.

"I wish early in the season we could have won these kind of games," said Dragic, who had 12 points and 13 assists in the first half. "If we would play like this earlier, we would be close to the playoffs."

Phoenix's Luis Scola scored 26 points -- 21 in the first half. P.J. Tucker had 21, and Markieff Morris finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, six blocks and five steals in the home finale for the Suns (25-56), who won for just the third time in their past 18 games.

"Hopefully the last couple of games is an indication we got better," said Suns coach Lindsey Hunter, whose team has won two of its past three. "He didn't get where we wanted to, but we did get better."

Five of the Suns' wins came against the Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.

"It's been a long season, and we've lost a lot of home games," Tucker said. "We're glad to get that last one. Hopefully we can use it as a jump-start going into next year."

Chandler Parsons scored 24, Carlos Delfino added 23, Jeremy Lin had 20 and James Harden finished with 16 for the Rockets (45-36). Houston split the four-game season series with the Suns and came within a Jermaine O'Neal goaltending call a week ago of dropping three of four.

"We never had any kind of control of this game at all," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "They had control of it all night. We played very poorly. We had bad shot selection, we missed some shots, they posted us up, they got everything they wanted and we couldn't stop them defensively."

The Rockets slipped a game behind the Golden State Warriors into seventh place in the Western Conference.

"We still have a chance to get the sixth if Golden State loses and we win," Lin said. "We don't know right now. It could be literally anything."

Lin gave Houston its biggest lead of the game, 55-50, with 5:11 left in the first half. Tucker, Wes Johnson and Jared Dudley then hit consecutive layups to edge the Suns in front 56-55, and Phoenix never looked back.

"They were just too comfortable," Lin said. "I think that has been one of our problems all season -- focus. It usually comes with a younger team. At this point of the season, it is really not an excuse. Every game means so much. We are talking about playoff seeding, we are talking about matchups and things that are more important than anything we played for all season."

Phoenix led by six at halftime and pushed the lead to eight on an early layup by Morris, only to see Harden and Parsons pull the Rockets close. Parsons converted a three-point play, then added an 11-footer, and Harden made two free throws to make it 75-71 with 8:24 left in the third.

The Suns answered quickly, scoring five straight points, capped by a Morris layup, and eventually stretched it to a 90-78 lead with 1:12 left in the third.

"I really don't like this kind of basketball," said Scola, who was 9-for-12 from the floor in the first half and finished 11-for-16 with 15 rebounds. "You get the numbers, but I like it a little more controlled."

Houston made a final run, cutting Phoenix's lead to 103-101 on a driving layup by Patrick Beverley with 6:20 to go. However, Morris rebounded his own blocked shot to start a 6-0 run to put the Suns back ahead 109-101 with 4:54 left.

The game was increasingly physical in the second half. Beverley finished with five stitches above his eye courtesy of a Dragic elbow, and Dragic needed three stitches over his left eye after taking an elbow from Harden while drawing a charging call.

"He could see the rim," Hunter said. "That's all he needed."

NOTES: Morris became the first NBA player in 15 years to finish with at least 18 points, seven rebounds, five steals and six blocks. The last was then-Suns forward Antonio McDyess on April 4, 1998, against Portland. ... The Suns' 39 first-quarter points were a season high for a single period. Phoenix also set a season high with 65 points in the first half. ... Dragic recorded nine assists on the Suns' 16 first-quarter field goals and secured his 20th double-double of the season before the half was over. ... McHale reached deep into his bench, using 11 players in the first half. ... Harden banged knees with Scola with 4:44 left in the first quarter but remained in the game. ... O'Neal missed his second straight game with a bruised shin. O'Neal was out April 7 against New Orleans, then returned to post identical 2-for-12 shooting nights before sitting out Saturday at Minnesota. ... With O'Neal out and Hamed Haddadi the only center on the Suns' roster, Hunter returned to his three-forward starting lineup. ... Before the game, Phoenix recalled G Diante Garrett from his third stint with Bakersfield of the D-League. ... The Rockets have dropped 11 of their past 14 games in Phoenix. ... Before Monday's victory, Phoenix was tied with the New Orleans Hornets for fewest home wins among Western Conference teams. The Suns earned their 17th home-court win.
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