Rockets' playoff hopes dim after loss to Suns

Fri Apr 8, 2016 12:17am EDT
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(The Sports Xchange) - James Harden wore a somber expression in a virtually empty locker room late Thursday night, a scene that painted the perfect picture of the Houston Rockets' season-long struggle with failure and frustration.

Phoenix's P.J. Tucker and Mirza Teletovic shared the offensive load, and the Suns dealt a severe blow to the Rockets' fading postseason hopes with a 124-115, comeback victory at Toyota Center.

The Suns (21-58) snapped a seven-game slide by immediately answering the Rockets' 7-0 spurt with a 12-0 run of their own in the fourth quarter.

Houston (38-41) had surged to a 110-107 lead, but starting with two Devin Booker free throws with 3:10 left, Phoenix wrested control and did severe damage to the Rockets' playoff designs.

The Rockets, with three games remaining, trail the Dallas Mavericks by 2 1/2 games and the Utah Jazz by 1 1/2 games.

"(It's) extremely tough (to) come back home after a tough loss (in Dallas on Wednesday) and just give the game away," Harden said. "We've still got an opportunity, we've just got to win out and have some other teams lose."

Tucker tallied 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Teletovic added 26 points off the bench. Tyson Chandler scored 21 points and grabbed 10 boards, and it was his dunk with 25 seconds left that capped the decisive run.

The Suns bludgeoned Houston on the boards, turning 20 offensive rebounds into 36 second-chance points and a plus-20 edge in shot attempts. Even with nothing to play for beyond professional pride, the Suns outworked the Rockets, rallying twice from double-digit deficits.

"It's the hardest thing in the world," Tucker said of staging a comeback without incentive. "That's why you're a pro. Me, Ronnie (Price) and Tyson try to teach these guys if you get down, the NBA is a long game. It's a game of runs. You've got to keep playing, keep fighting, keep chipping away."   Continued...

Apr 7, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Mirza Teletovic (35) shoots the ball during the second quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports