Suns set on Houston in OT
Houston, TX (Sports Network) – Joe Johnson buried a jump shot with 1.4 seconds
left in overtime, lifting the Phoenix Suns to a 99-97 win over the Houston
Rockets at the Toyota Center.
Phoenix halted a four-game losing streak and collected its third straight win
versus the Rockets. Johnson had 19 points, while Shawn Marion scored 29 and
tied the game with a three-pointer late in regulation.
Amare Stoudemire scored 24 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for the Suns,
who overcame a 21-point deficit and shot 35 percent for the game. Leandro
Barbosa added 14 points in the win.
Yao Ming was solid for the Rockets with 29 points, 19 boards and six blocks.
Jim Jackson finished with 23 points, including a 7-for-8 clip from beyond the
arc, as the Rockets saw their five-game winning streak come to an end.
Stoudemire kept the Suns close at 88-85 with a layup. Phoenix had the ball
with time ticking away in regulation and Marion’s three with 5.5 seconds left
tied the game at 88 apiece. Steve Francis had a chance for the win but his
jumper glanced off the back of the iron.
“It was tough to lose, but when you try to overlook a team like that, that is
very young and athletic, you get burnt and that’s what happened,” Francis
Johnson was sent to the line with 2:09 left in overtime and sank both shots
for a 98-89 Phoenix lead. The Rockets later pulled within 95-94 on Jackson’s
three and took a 96-95 edge on a layup by Cuttino Mobley with 38.6 seconds to
go. Mobley had 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Stoudemire’s basket with 27.6 seconds remaining gave the Suns back the lead at
97-96, but he committed a costly foul on Yao with 18 seconds left. The big man
then made 1-of-2 from the line to even the score at 97-97.
Johnson became a hero when he buried a high-arching jumper over Yao with 1.4
seconds on the clock to give Phoenix a 99-97 lead. Houston had plenty of time
on the other end but Yao’s jump shot at the buzzer caromed off the iron.
“He hesitated, hesitated, hesitated and put it up and there wasn’t too much
more Yao could do,” Jackson said of Johnson’s game-winning shot.
The Rockets raced out to a 21-10 lead thanks to a three-pointer by Mobley with
less than four minutes to go in the first quarter. Jackson later buried a
three-pointer for a 29-15 lead and Houston carried a 33-15 advantage into the
Phoenix opened the second stanza on a 13-3 run and closed within 36-28 on a
basket by Zarko Cabarkapa almost five minutes into the quarter. Houston,
though, pulled away and led by a 48-35 score at halftime.
Jackson had 14 points and Mobley netted 13 at the break for Houston, while
Marion led the Suns with 12 points. Stoudemire chipped in 10 for Phoenix.
Stoudemire and Francis almost exchanged blows in the third quarter. Stoudemire
dunked over Yao and yelled boisterously afterwards. Francis didn’t appreciate
the gesture and elbowed the much larger Stoudemire in the neck. The two were
then separated by the officials and some teammates.
“I guess Steve didn’t like that,” Stoudemire said of the jam. “He acted like
an idiot. It made me more aggressive.”
Houston grabbed a 59-49 lead on Jackson’s fifth three-pointer of the game with
less than seven minutes to go in the third quarter. The Suns answered with a
14-4 run to even the score at 63 apiece. Johnson’s three ended the spurt and
tied the game with 2:33 left in the third quarter.
Phoenix then took a 67-65 lead on two free throws by Cabarkapa with less than
a minute to go in the period. The Suns then headed to the fourth quarter with
a slim 67-66 edge.
After the Suns took a 73-70 lead early in the fourth quarter on two foul shots
by Johnson, Houston reeled off nine straight points for a 79-73 edge. Phoenix
put together a run of its own and took an 81-79 lead courtesy of an 8-0 burst.
With less than three minutes to go in the game, Jackson buried another three
and the Rockets were in control with an 86-81 lead. Johnson then trimmed the
lead to three at 86-83 with a layup, but Yao extended the margin to five with
a jumper in the paint.
“We’ve been playing hard as a team and it is nice for our guys to get some
sugar,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I’m really proud of them.”