Phoenix, AZ – The recently struggling Phoenix Suns certainly gave their home crowd something to cheer about during fan appreciation night Monday as the team stunned playoff bound Houston, 119-112 on Monday.
Luis Scola scored 26 points and grabbed 15 rebounds against his former team, while Markieff Morris padded the stat sheet with 20 points, seven rebounds, five steals and six blocks for the Suns, who had found victory just once in their last 12 games and had dropped 15 of 17 overall coming in.
"We know this wasn't the season we all expected," Scola said. "This is what we earned tonight, we deserved this. We need to work and get better and I hope we can work to get better for next year."
P.J. Tucker had 21 points and Wesley Johnson scored 12 to go along with seven boards in the victory.
Phoenix, which currently sits at the bottom of the Western Conference and is already guaranteed its second-worst record in franchise history, finishing ahead of only the 16-66 mark in the team's expansion season of 1968-69, came out firing from the start.
Chandler Parsons scored 24 points, Jeremy Lin added 20 and Carlos Delfino chipped in 23 for the Rockets, who have already clinched their first postseason berth since 2009, but have lost two of their last three.
Houston can finish as high as sixth - the place they currently occupy. However, Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers can still finish ahead of them in the final playoff seedings.
The Rockets hold the tiebreaker over Golden State with a 3-1 advantage in the season series, but with a loss to the Lakers in the regular season finale on Wednesday, Houston could occupy the eighth and final seed because the Lakers have a better record against Western Conference foes.
James Harden, who shot 0-of-9 from the floor in the second half with two points, closed Houston's deficit to five as he split a pair of free throws with 1:28 to play.
Tucker then made a layup and after Harden missed a 3-point attempt, Morris made two free throws to make 118-109 with 29.5 seconds left to help the home team hold on for the win.
Scola and Dragic twice extended the hosts' lead to 10 early in the fourth with a layup and a triple, respectively, before Patrick Beverly closed Houston's gap to 103-101 with 6:20 remaining. Phoenix scored six straight points, though, to bring its edge back to eight with just under five minutes to play.
"They got pretty much whatever they wanted. We could not stop them defensively," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said.
After a high-energy, fast-paced first half, both team's cooled down in the third quarter. Houston shot 8-of-22 from the floor compared to Phoenix's 9- of-22 effort.
Delfino's triple with 3:52 remaining in the third closed the deficit to six, but the Suns still led 90-83 at the quarter's end.
The Rockets reeled off a 27-11 surge after trailing by 11 following the first quarter. Lin split a pair of free throws to make it 55-50 with 5:11 remaining before the half and accounted for 13 points during the run. The hosts countered with eight straight points, though, to take a three-point edge with two minutes left and led at the break, 67-61.
Scola supplied 13 points in the first quarter and the Suns started the game on a 33-23 run before ending the period up 39-28.
Delfino made 6-of-9 shots from behind the arc though the Rockets shot 11-of-29 from 3-point range as a team ... The Suns forced 16 Houston turnovers resulting in 16 points ... Phoenix made just 7-of-23 from behind the arc.