Monday night the Houston Rockets were able to pull off an easy home game win against the injury plagued Suns. Just kidding – after a strong first quarter Houston let the Suns get within points of what could have been a destructive loss to Phoenix in a game that came down to the last few seconds. Jared Dudley (a .404% three point shooter) had a chance to sink the Rockets on a wide open three with seconds left.
Unfortunately, tonight I will only be able to recap the final action packed five minutes of the game but will provide a full recap tomorrow morning.
The Rockets struggled miserably to find a scoring option in the fourth quarter. Previously in the game, most of our offense had been delivered from unlikely players like Jordan Hill and Chuck Hayes. Kevin Martin failed to make an impact in the fourth. Lowry was doing his best to put numbers on the board but his shot simply wasn’t falling.
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The Final Five Minutes:
Houston’s luck was beginning to turn around as the surging Suns had begun to find their offensive flow. With five minutes left, Lowry bodied his way into the lane to lay it up for two points. Vince Carter, much like last weeks game, had found his stroke in the second half and was proving to be to much even for likes of Courtney Lee. After an unsuccessful offensive possession for the Suns, Chuck Hayes pulled down a giant offensive board (the Rockets had 16) and managed to lay it up over a wall of defenders.
The Suns decided to give the ball to Josh Childress, a reserve who had previously not played much but who finished with 15 points. Chuck Hayes guarded Childress, who has not been shooting well from outside, but Josh knocked down his first three pointer of the season. Grant Hill locked up Kevin Martin on the offensive end who missed his jumper and proceeded to back down Martin in the post on the other end for an easy two point hook. The Suns were one point away from their first lead of the game 86 to 87. After a failed shot, Patrick Patterson pulled down another offensive board and dished to Lowry who set Chuck Hayes up in the low post for a foul. Chuck finished with a career high 21 points and hit both of his free throws. Third string point guard and D-League call up for the suns Zabian Dowdell had found his rythm on offense and sank his first three point shot of the season on offense. With the ball back in Houston’s hands, Lowry was able to assert his presence and hit a midrange jump shot that put Houston up by two points.
The Suns go to the red hot Vince Carter for a deep three ball on offense, Vince’s miss was then turned into a put back slam by Josh Childress. On offense Martin looked for his shot but found no openings, eventually diverting to a wide open Kyle Lowry who elevated for an easy two points barely inside the arc. The Suns, unable to find a look, hustle back on D only to foul Lowry off of his shot.
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At this point, the Suns were now in the bonus. Lowry dishes to Chuck on offense who drew contact in the paint. Looking to lock down his career high, Chuck went to the charity stripe but missed both free throws. After Vince Carter missed another three, Chuck was fouled and missed his third consecutive crunch time free throw but eventually made one. With no time outs and 25 seconds left, the Suns had the ball. The Rockets wisely locked down only the perimeter and gave Marcin Gorat an easy dunk to put the Suns down by one point with 15 seconds left.
The Rockets needed to inbound the ball to a free throw shooter and picked Kevin Martin. Martin grabbed the inbounded ball but was immediately pounced on by Jared Dudley who managed to get a paw on the rock and force a jump ball. Martin had the athletic advantage over Dudley, and managed to tip the ball to Chase Budinger who was sent to the line with just 10 seconds left on the clock. In the clutch, Chase chocked and missed a free throw. With 10 seconds left and no timeouts, the Suns needed a three pointer to win the game. They quickly drove the ball up and found an open Jared Dudley who miraculously missed the three pointer and the Rockets managed to win 93 to 95 in what might have been the closest game of the season.
Houston looked good in the first half, but ultimately let the Suns back in with plenty of opportunists to win. We got lucky, but we’ll take it.