Rockets-Suns Preview

The Associated Press

The Phoenix Suns came out flat during a loss to the Houston Rockets last week. They haven't suffered another defeat since then.

The Suns will try to add to their longest win streak of the season in Thursday night's rematch with the Rockets at the U.S. Airways Center.

Phoenix (11-14) trailed by 20 points at halftime Friday in Houston en route to a 99-81 defeat but has bounced back with three consecutive victories. In their latest win, the Suns blew a 21-point lead in the second half Tuesday in Milwaukee but Steve Nash's layup with five seconds left gave them a 107-105 win.

That victory was the fifth game in the first seven days of this month for the Suns, tying them with Oklahoma City and Utah for the most in the league over that span.

"We were able to grind it out. It was a pretty formidable win under pretty formidable circumstances," said Nash, who had 18 points and 11 assists on his 38th birthday.

Nash scored just six points in last week's loss at the Toyota Center while the Rockets (15-11) had seven players in double figures, led by Kevin Martin with 16. Houston had 50 points from its bench in that win and a season-high 66 - two shy of matching the best effort in the NBA this season - during a 103-96 victory in Portland on Wednesday.

"That's always a good thing, whenever the second unit can give the starters a rest when we have a game the next day," said forward Patrick Patterson, who had 11 points in nearly 24 minutes. "I think each person should be pleased with their play, and overall this was a team win."

Reserve forward Chase Budinger had a season-best 22 points and the Rockets might need to rely on their depth again in Phoenix, where they've lost four straight.

Starting point guard Kyle Lowry injured his right arm late in the third quarter against the Blazers and his status is unknown for Thursday's game. Lowry, averaging 14.8 points this season, scored 32 during the previous game in Phoenix on March 8.

With or without Lowry, Houston will seek a season-high third straight road victory in its fourth stop on its longest trip of the season. The Rockets are 2-1 on that six-game trek, which ends Tuesday against Memphis.

The Suns, meanwhile, are trying for consecutive home victories for only the second time this season. They're also seeking to win four in a row overall for the first time since Feb. 23-28.

Nash has played a big part during the four-game home win streak over Houston, averaging 20.8 points on 62.5 percent shooting and 13.5 assists. He was held to nine points during the 113-110 victory in March but made five free throws over the final 24 seconds.

The Rockets have won the past two matchups with Phoenix after dropping seven in a row and will try to earn another win while getting Martin out of a funk. Houston's leading scorer (18.7 ppg) has scored a combined 14 over the last three games while missing 20 of 24 shots.

Martin has averaged 18.8 points on 47.2 percent shooting over his last four matchups with the Suns.

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