Bledsoe leads Suns to 97-88 win over Rockets

The Phoenix Suns did something against the Houston Rockets they

had not done in their previous two games.

Every time the Rockets made a run at the young Suns on Wednesday

night, Phoenix responded.

Eric Bledsoe had 20 points and seven assists to lead Phoenix to

a 97-88 win over Houston on Wednesday night that snapped the Suns’

two-game losing streak.

PJ Tucker added 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting with six

rebounds.

Channing Frye had 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting and grabbed six

rebounds, and Goran Dragic chipped in 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting

for the Suns, who shot 45.6 percent from the field, including 45.8

percent from behind the arc.

”Throughout the year, we have had games where we have the lead

in the fourth quarter,” Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said. ”We

have blown some, and as a young team, that happens. You want to see

the progress where that doesn’t happen. They cut it down, and we

could have gotten panicked where we forced shots, but we

didn’t.”

Dwight Howard had 15 points and 18 rebounds, Aaron Brooks added

17 points and six assists, and Omri Casspi had 14 points and seven

rebounds for the Rockets, who lost their second straight game.

James Harden, who was guarded by Tucker, finished with 14

points, hitting 3 of 17 from the field and going 0 for 10 from

behind the arc. Patrick Beverley had 12 points and eight

rebounds.

Houston shot 35 percent from the floor and turned the ball over

23 times.

Houston coach Kevin McHale said the Rockets did not play very

well.

”In the first quarter, Phoenix came up and got real aggressive

with us and were denying us around the court,” McHale said. ”We

didn’t handle that very well, and then you compound that with shots

not going. We had no flow tonight. . I just thought the 13 assists,

23 turnovers, some really errant passing. We gave up 25 points off

our turnovers, so we just fed them.”

The Rockets opened the fourth quarter with a 13-2 run to cut the

Suns’ lead to 75-74 on Brooks’ 3-pointer with 7 minutes

remaining.

As they did throughout the game, the Suns responded, going on a

13-0 run over the next four minutes to expand the lead to 14 on

Marcus Morris’ 3-pointer with 3 minutes remaining.

Houston tried to answer, closing within 88-82 on an 8-0 run

capped by Brooks’ 3-pointer with 1:49 remaining.

”Playing on the road against the No. 1 offensive team in the

league, you know they are going to make a run,” Tucker said.

”It’s just one of those things where you keep playing hard and

keep taking those shots. We started missing some shots, but we

wanted to stick with it and pushing the ball back up.”

Again, the Suns would have an answer as Morris connected on a

3-pointer from the corner followed by two free throws from Dragic

to push the lead to 11 with 1:15 left.

”We know that Houston likes to push the ball,” Dragic said.

”In every NBA game, we know that every team is going to have a

run. If you’re solid on defense and play together on offense, I

think we find the right open guy at the right time, and he makes

shot. That’s huge play.”

Houston tried once more to slice into the lead, getting it down

to seven points on Beverley’s 3-pointer with 57 seconds left.

Houston got no closer the rest of the way.

Howard said the Rockets’ bad offensive night had nothing to do

with them missing shots, the Suns ”just played harder than

us.”

”We can’t give away games like this,” Howard said. ”It will

come back to bite us in games later this season. We’ve got to learn

how, no matter how many guys we have out there, short-handed and

all, we’ve got to play the same way, play hard and play

aggressive.”

After the Rockets got to 63-61 on Garcia’s 3-pointer with 2:20

left in the third, the Suns finished the quarter on a 10-0 run,

capped by two free throws by Markieff Morris to take a 12-point

lead into the fourth.

Houston opened the second half with an 11-4 run to get within

55-51 on Beverley’s 3-pointer with 6:50 remaining in the third

quarter.

Phoenix used a 14-3 run over a three-minute span of the second

quarter to take a 47-34 lead on Tucker’s 3 with 3:09 remaining in

the quarter.

The Suns shot 50 percent in the first half and took a 51-40 lead

into the break. Houston shot 29.8 percent in the first half.

”We just didn’t have enough energy,” Harden said. ”We didn’t

make shots on the offensive end or move the basketball, and they

did.”

NOTES: Jeremy Lin sat out with a right knee sprain. … Houston

said center Omer Asik will miss a week with a right thigh

contusion. Asik will be re-evaluated at the end of the week. .

Houston forward Chandler Parsons missed his second straight game

with back spasms. . Phoenix center Alex Len missed his eighth

straight game with a sore left ankle.