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Rockets, Suns set for desert skirmish

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets hope to start a new winning streak when they resume a five-game western road trip Sunday against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center.

The Rockets had won eight in a row prior to Thursday's 102-99 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors, as Stephen Curry scored 25 points and his layup over Dwight Howard with 3.2 seconds left in regulation sent the game into overtime with the score knotted at 89-89.

"We had a dribble play to see if we could get a quick look at an open 3. The way the screen was set up I had an open lane, it was just a matter of finishing over Dwight. Thankfully I got the soft touch," Curry said.

Golden State had a 13-10 advantage in the extra session and Jermaine O'Neal's block on Chandler Parsons in the waning moments of OT sealed the win. James Harden led the Rockets with 39 points on 14-of-27 shooting and Howard ended with 11 points to go along with 21 rebounds.

Parsons scored 21 points for Houston, which was coming off a win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Howard's return against his former team. The Rockets made only 36.6 percent from the field against the Warriors and are 15-11 as the visitor this season.

Houston, which is third in the Western Conference standings and had won four in a row away from home, has Sacramento and the Clippers remaining on the sojourn.

In injury news for Houston, Harden (elbow) is questionable Sunday for a Rockets team averaging 105.9 ppg. Harden leads the team with 24.3 ppg and is posting an average of 27.9 points in the last seven games.

Howard is averaging 21.1 points and 13.0 rebounds in previous 14 games and has recorded 12 double-doubles in that time, including six straight.

Phoenix has been playing well of late with three straight wins and nine in the last 12 contests. The Suns are 2-0 so far on a four-game homestand with wins over Boston and San Antonio.

In Friday's convincing 106-85 defeat of the Spurs, Markieff Morris led five players in double figures with 21 points and Channing Frye added 17. Ish Smith (15), Gerald Green (13) and Marcus Morris (13) rounded out the double-digit scorers for Phoenix, which shot 51.2 percent for the game and scored 23 points off 18 San Antonio turnovers.

It was San Antonio's last game on its annual Rodeo road trip.

"They were probably itching to get home. They had an off night," Suns first- year head coach Jeff Hornacek said of the Spurs.

Spurs Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich had nothing but praise for Hornacek.

"A lot of credit goes to Jeff. He will try to deflect it all because of who he is. He sets a tone and has a lot of credibility for the way he has carried himself through his career," Popovich said afterward.

The Suns, who are alive and well in the playoff chase, ended a four-game home losing streak to San Antonio and pushed their record in the desert to 19-9. Minnesota will visit the Valley of the Sun Tuesday night.

Phoenix and Houston have split two meetings this season with both games played at the Toyota Center. The Suns have won five of the last eight matchups between the Western foes, while the Rockets have dropped three in a row and seven of eight trips to Arizona.

02/23 10:15:45 ET

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