Houston, TX – Marcin Gortat scored 20 points and pulled down 15 rebounds as the Phoenix Suns hung on to defeat the Houston Rockets, 112-105, at Toyota Center.
Jared Dudley added 19 points and Steve Nash contributed 18 points and 10 assists for the Suns, who won for the sixth time in eight tries to pull within a game of the Rockets for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Phoenix is also 1 1/2 games behind Denver for the seventh seed, but could also get within a game of the Nuggets as they are currently playing the Lakers.
Goran Dragic netted 22 points and handed out seven assists, while Luis Scola dropped in 21 and Marcus Camby had 14 points and 18 rebounds for Houston, which has dropped two straight.
The Suns trailed, 55-51, after a first half in which they led just once with a brief one-point advantage, but dominated the third quarter to pull ahead for good.
Nash opened the third with a three-pointer, and after Courtney Lee answered with a dunk, the Suns reeled off six straight points to take a 60-57 lead.
Scola responded with four straight points to put the Rockets back on top, but Dudley's trey at the other end regained the lead for the Suns and they would never trail again.
Houston managed to stay within two possessions over the next four minutes until Phoenix closed out the third quarter with a 12-2 push to hold an 81-69 advantage at the end of three.
The Suns maintained their double-digit lead for the majority of the fourth quarter until a late 19-8 spurt by the Rockets closed the gap to 105-100 with just under two minutes to play.
Lee had a chance to bring Houston within two after Grant Hill missed a pair of jumpers around a Rockets' turnover, but his three-pointer from the top of the key rimmed out and Dudley drained a trey on the other end to give the Suns back their cushion.
Houston would not threaten again as Phoenix made enough free throws down the stretch.
The Rockets held a one-possession lead over the opening six minutes of the contest until a Dragic layup was followed by a Camby jumper to give the Rockets their largest lead of the game so far, 16-11.
Phoenix responded with six straight points to take their first lead on a Gortat hook shot, but Houston closed out the first with a 12-4 run to carry a 28-21 advantage into the second quarter.
The Suns never trailed by more than seven points throughout a back-and-forth second quarter, but could never take the lead either and the Rockets led, 55-51, at the break.
The teams split the season series, 2-2...The Suns held a 44-39 advantage on the glass, but Houston outscored them in the paint, 48-32...Phoenix shot 8- for-18 from three-point range...The Rockets connected on 4-of-19 shots from beyond the arc.