Rockets top Suns, earn home court
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Tracy McGrady posted 39 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, as the Houston Rockets held off the Phoenix Suns, 120-117, at the Toyota Center.
With the win, Houston earned home-court advantage against the Northwest Division champion and fourth-seeded Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.
"As I'm trying to convey to the team, home-court has no bearing until there's a possible seventh game," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
Phoenix won the Pacific Division and is the second seed in the Western Conference standings, while the Rockets notched their best record since 1997.
Yao Ming notched 34 points and nine boards for Houston, which has won five in a row and played its final home game of the campaign, finishing with a 28-13 mark at the Toyota Center. Shane Battier scored 17 points, and Rafer Alston added 11 points and nine assists.
Amare Stoudemire netted 30 points for Phoenix, which had a five-game winning streak snapped. Shawn Marion scored 27 points, and Steve Nash had 15 points and 15 assists. James Jones also scored 15 points, and Leandro Barbosa added 14 off the bench.
Barbosa scored on an off-balanced three-pointer with 1:07 remaining to cut the Phoenix deficit to 118-113, and Stoudemire's bucket approaching the final minute made it 118-115.
McGrady and Stoudemire missed on a jumpers, and Nash and Stoudemire came up short on three-point attempts in the final seconds. Marion scored on a layup with one second left to cut it to just 118-117, but Alston converted a pair of free throws with just 0.3 seconds on the clock to clinch Houston home court for the first round against Utah.
"It was a great game and you have to give them credit," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "They played hard and well. We played well in spots and competed hard the whole game."
With the score deadlocked at 66, Houston exploded on a 19-4 run finished by a pair of short McGrady jumpers for an 85-70 lead heading down the third-quarter stretch. The Rockets led comfortably, 91-79 heading into the fourth.
Jones scored on a three-pointer just over two minutes into the fourth to trim the Phoenix deficit to single digits, 93-86.
Phoenix edged a 25-24 lead heading into the second, in which Houston gained three points on the Suns for a 56-54 Rockets lead at halftime.
The Suns were 3-1 against the Rockets this season and had a six-game winning streak in the series snapped...Phoenix also had a six-game winning streak snapped at Houston after losing its last three.HOU PHO