Suns 113, Rockets 110
Everyone knows Channing Frye can shoot.
His replacement can, too.
Hakim Warrick did something Frye never has - scored 32 points in place of the injured Frye, and the Suns added to their recent mastery of Houston with a 113-110 victory over the Rockets on Tuesday night.
Warrick established a career high in scoring, making 14 of 19 shots - many of them mid- to long-range jumpers and not his usual game of inside baskets and dunks.
''I got a couple of layups that got me going and Steve (Nash) just kept feeding me,'' Warrick said. ''I just had to knock it down. This game is mostly confidence so you see the ball go in the basket, you are going to continue to be aggressive and no matter what I'm going to be aggressive but once you some early buckets it really helps you out.''
Vince Carter scored 15 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, including two of his five 3-pointers, in the Suns' seventh consecutive victory over Houston. Carter was coming off a 29-point game in Sunday's overtime loss at Oklahoma City, but he missed two of three free throws when Phoenix had a chance to take the lead with 17.4 seconds to play in that game.
''I couldn't wait to get back on the floor,'' Carter said. ''I am not afraid to fail or be afraid to be in that position, to win games for my team. At the same time I hate losing and I hate failing.''
Kevin Lowry scored 32 points, including a career-high seven 3-pointers, for the Rockets, who had won seven of eight overall and seven of eight road games entering the contest.
''It's a tough loss, a tough loss,'' Houston coach Rick Adelman said. ''We didn't guard them well in the second half and they made shots.''
The Suns, back after going 4-2 on their longest road trip of the season, never led by more than six in the game and trailed by 11.
Grant Hill added 19 points for Phoenix and Marcin Gortat had 13 points and 16 rebounds. Patrick Patterson scored 18, Kevin Martin had 17 and Chase Budinger 15 for Houston in a matchup of two teams whose strong recent play has propelled them into the mix for a playoff spot in the West.
The victory left the Suns 1 1/2 games behind idle Memphis for the conference's eighth and final playoff berth.
It was the kind of game even the losing players could appreciate.
''That's how basketball games are supposed to be played,'' Lowry said. ''They made shots, we made shots. That's how the game is supposed to be played down the stretch, a tough, hard-fought game. Vince made some shots and they made some real tough individual plays. They did their pick and roll and Warrick did awesome tonight. He made up for them missing Frye tonight.''
Houston was without Luis Scola, who injured his left knee in the third quarter in the Rockets 123-101 rout of the Kings in Sacramento on Monday night. The Suns soon were without Mickael Pietrus, who drew two quick technicals from referee Mark Ayotte and was ejected with 9:03 left in the first half.
Carter, who fell a point shy of his season high, scored five straight Phoenix points, then Warrick dunked on a lob pass from Nash and made a 16-footer in a 9-4 spurt that put the Suns ahead 108-102 with 1:03 to play. Lowry's seventh 3-pointer cut it to 108-105 with 54 seconds remaining, then Gortat missed at the other end. But Miller's outlet pass was deflected by Hill into the hands of Nash, who made five straight free throws in the final 23.9 seconds before his miss gave Houston one last chance.
Lowry passed to Miller rather than take what would have been a difficult shot under pressure, too.
''I should have shot the ball. I should have shot it,'' Lowry said. ''I should have made it a clean look.''
In his first game against his former team, and first in Phoenix as a Sun, Aaron Brooks was 0 for 6 with two turnovers and four fouls in 12 1/2 minutes. Goran Dragic, traded to Houston for Brooks, was 0 for 4 shooting but did have three assists with zero turnovers and was 6 of 8 at the foul line.
Notes: Frye is out 2-3 weeks after dislocating his right shoulder against Oklahoma City on Sunday. ... Houston opens a season-long six-game home stand Saturday night against San Antonio. ... All five of Warrick's 20-point games this season have come at home. ... The Suns are 18-8 since Jan. 12. and 6-0 in their last six games following a loss.