Suns Get Handled by Rockets, 116-100
In the first game back after the All-Star break, the Phoenix Suns picked right back up from where they left off and lost to the Houston Rockets, 116-100. After trading Markieff Morris to the Washington Wizards, the Suns are now without their top four leading scorers from this season (Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Markieff Morris, and T.J. Warren). Until Knight returns to the lineup, the Suns will be hard-pressed to find scoring from the remaining players on the roster.
Mirza Teletovic led the way for the Suns tonight, cashing in a season-high 25 points. He also pulled down eight rebounds and had a couple assists. Teletovic looks to be one of the few guys the Suns will lean on to get buckets for the rest of the season. Jon Leuer returned to the starting lineup tonight and put together a nice game, knocking the rust off for 16 points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots. Leuer always seems to be ready out of the gate when he starts games, and managed seven of his points in the first quarter. Newcomer Kris Humphries surprised and impressed everyone tonight, getting his first double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds. More on him in a second.
James Harden played a great game of basketball to lead the Rockets to victory, with a stat line of 27 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. Harden scored 14 of those points from the free throw line on 17 attempts, while the Rockets got to the line a whopping 56 times as a team. They controlled the pace of the game all night, causing the Suns to foul them while attempting to stop numerous fast breaks. Trevor Ariza put together another good game against the Suns, going for 25 points, six rebounds, three assists, and five steals.
The Suns put together a solid first quarter, looking refreshed coming out of the All-Star break rather than rusty, like a lot of us would expect. The Suns had a three point lead heading into the second quarter, but the tune of the game changed quickly from there. Throughout the entire second quarter and a chunk of the third, the Rockets outscored Phoenix 38-13 to put this game out of reach for the Suns. Phoenix stays home to take on the Spurs on Sunday, February 21st at 3:00 local time.
Did anyone expect Kris Humphries to play 27 minutes in his first game as a Sun, and then on top of that, manage to pull down a double-double? I didn’t. Humphries was very impressive in his debut and looked to fit in with the team right from the start of the game. He is something that we have been missing from the PF position, a solid post defender and an above-average defensive rebounder. I don’t see Humphries fitting in with the Suns’ long-term plans, but he may have found himself a nice role for the rest of the season.
Speaking of power forwards, all three of them produced on the floor tonight. The trio of Leuer, Teletovic, and Humphries combined for 59 points, 26 rebounds, six assists, and four blocks. With numbers like that, I really don’t think we will be missing Morris’ production this season.
Len missed tonight’s game with a sprained right ankle. This news seemed to only break today, so the injury must have happened in one of the recent scrimmages post All-Star break. Tyson Chandler also went back to the locker room in the second quarter tonight with a strained right shoulder. Depending on the status of these two big-men, watch for the Suns to sign a center to a 10-day contract within the next few days.