NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, March 18 (All times eastern)
Houston Rockets (24-21) at Phoenix Suns (22-22), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The suddenly surging Phoenix Suns had a few days to rest after sweeping a back-to-back-to-back series and will get to work tonight versus the Houston Rockets at US Airways Center.
The Suns reached the .500 mark for only the second time this season and first since Jan. 8 (4-4) with a 109-101 triumph over the Detroit Pistons on Friday in the desert. Jared Dudley scored 23 points and Channing Frye contributed 15 and 13 rebounds for the Suns, winners in three straight and eight of their last 10 since the All-Star break.
"We are .500 and we are ecstatic about that but we still got a lot of work to do," said Suns coach Alvin Gentry.
Marcin Gortat added 16 points, Grant Hill and Robin Lopez had 14 points apiece and Steve Nash handed out 17 assists for the Suns, who are 10-3 in their last 13 games and swept a back-to-back-to-back set for the first time since March 4-6, 1981. The Suns are 7-1 in the desert since the break and 14-10 as the host this season. They are also 1 1/2 games behind Houston for the final postseason spot in the West.
Phoenix will begin a four-game road trip through Miami, Orlando, Indiana and Cleveland on Tuesday.
Houston had won two in a row and three of four games before suffering a 95-91 loss against the Los Angeles Clippers in Hollywood last night.
Courtney Lee scored a season-high 25 points and Chas Budinger added 19 for a Rockets team that shot 48.6 percent and was outscored by a 30-19 difference in the third quarter. Patrick Patterson had 14 points off the bench and Goran Dragic finished with 11 and 14 assists.
"We could have done better," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said after his team's seventh loss in 10 tries. "They were aggressive down the stretch. They beat us up on the boards and that cost us the game."
Rockets new guard Derek Fisher, who was acquired from the Lakers before Thursday's trade deadline, has still not reported to the team. The Rockets are just 8-15 on the road, as opposed to their 16-6 home ledger, and will play four in a row back in Space City next week versus the Lakers, Warriors, Mavericks and Kings.
Houston is still without leading scorer Kevin Martin (shoulder) and fellow guard Kyle Lowry (illness). Both players are not expected to suit up Sunday. Marcus Camby was shipped to the Rockets before the trade deadline from Portland and it's unknown when he'll make his debut.
The Rockets have taken the first two meetings with Phoenix this season, but the Suns have won 15 of 23 overall. Both clubs will meet again April 13 at the Toyota Center.
03/18 10:37:39 ET