Suns 115, Rockets 111, OT
The Phoenix Suns finally figured out how to win the kind of road game they've been losing lately.
Amare Stoudemire scored a season-high 36 points, Steve Nash handed out 16 assists and the Suns snapped a five-game road losing streak with a 115-111 overtime victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.
Nash scored 11 points and grabbed a season-high eight rebounds, and Grant Hill added 19 points for the Suns, who got their first road win since a 113-109 victory in Sacramento on Jan. 5. Their last road win before that came on Nov. 29 in Toronto.
``A lot of things didn't go our way, and we found a way to hang around and get it done,'' Nash said. ``On the road, the way we've lost a lot of games like that this year, to have the toughness to continue and find different ways to win the game was exciting.''
Aaron Brooks scored 24 points after shooting poorly in the first half and Trevor Ariza had 21 for the Rockets, who've lost five of their last eight games.
The Rockets shot 38 percent (40 of 106), but overcame poor shooting with stingy defense in the second half to make it close at the end.
Brooks hit a pull-up jumper with 1:18 left in regulation to cut the Suns' lead to 97-96. Nash was called for a technical foul, claiming Brooks pushed off before the shot. Brooks sank the resulting free throw to tie it, but Nash sank a 3-pointer with 1:08 to go for a 100-97 Suns' lead.
Ariza tied it with a 3-pointer from the corner with 11.3 seconds remaining. Nash fell as he threw up a last-second shot that came up short at the buzzer.
The Suns led by 18 early, and had blown leads of 15 points or more five times this season. But Nash remained confident in this one, even after the game went to an extra period.
``I still felt like we could find a way to win,'' Nash said. ``We had a good energy about us and we were tough enough tonight to dig through it.''
Stoudemire fouled out with 3:08 left in the overtime and the scored tied at 104. Jason Richardson finished a fast break with a layup, then scored again off a set play as the Suns took a 111-107 lead.
Brooks hit a free throw and Luis Scola scored in the lane to pull Houston within one. Jared Dudley sank two free throws with 5.3 seconds left, and the Suns fouled Brooks before he could shoot a tying 3.
Brooks made the first free throw, then was called for a lane violation when he threw the ball off the rim and tried to get his own rebound. Nash hit two free throws with 3.6 seconds left to clinch the victory.
``Everybody, from the second unit on down, showed great tenacity,'' Stoudemire said. ``We had to scrap for it, but we had enough professionalism to pull it out in the end.''
The Rockets missed 14 of their first 16 shots and quickly trailed by 13. Chase Budinger's driving layup with 4:24 left in the first quarter snapped Houston's 6-minute scoring drought, but Richardson immediately dunked an alley-oop pass from Hill for a 21-8 lead.
Phoenix stretched the lead to 56-38 in the second quarter, as Houston's starters continued to misfire. Brooks, coming off a 33-point game against Portland on Friday, went 1 for 7 from the field in the first half. Scola and Shane Battier both went 2 for 7.
``We shot the ball terrible in the first half,'' Brooks said. ``We shot the ball terrible pretty much the whole game, but our defense is what allowed us to stay in the game.''
Phoenix led 60-48 at the break, and Stoudemire swished three jumpers from the top of the key early in the third quarter. From there, the Rockets tightened their defense and mounted a 16-2 run. Brooks sank back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 68-67, and Scola tipped in Ariza's miss to put the Rockets up by one.
Nash delivered five assists in the final three minutes of the third quarter, and Phoenix took a 79-73 lead to the fourth.
NOTES: Stoudemire has 16 double-doubles this season. ... G Will Conroy, recalled from the Rockets' developmental league affiliate on Thursday, made his Houston debut in the first quarter. Conroy replaced regular backup point guard Kyle Lowry, who's out at least a week with a sprained left knee. ... The Rockets went 11 for 34 from 3-point range, a season high for attempts.