For most of the night, Goran Dragic could not be stopped. The point guard the Rockets had let get away tormented them, carrying the Suns back from and 18-point deficit and guiding them to an 11-point lead. With the game on the line, however, the point guard that replaced the point guard that replaced Dragic, took over. As if Dragic had punched himself out or Pat Beverley just had seen enough, Beverley took over down the stretch. He scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter. He grabbed a key late rebound. He knocked down free throws. And when Dragic missed his 3 at the buzzer to force overtime, the Rockets took a tough 115-112 win, taking control in the final minute. Dragic had 35 points for the Suns, but did not score in the final five minutes when Beverley repeatedly went at him. The turnaround, however, began when the Rockets recaptured their defense in the fourth quarter. Once the Suns, down 18, got going in the second quarter, the Rockets could not stop them until they had been pushed to the brink. The Rockets made that more difficult by repeatedly passing to the wrong team, with eight turnovers in the third quarter leading to 13 Suns points. But even in the halfcourt, where the Rockets defense is usually strong, the Suns easily dashed around screens to nail jumpers. By the time Gerald Green ended the third quarter by banking in a 28-footer, he had scored 18 third-quarter points and the Suns led 93-83. After making just 31.8 percent of their shots in the first quarter, the Suns made 66.7 percent in the second and third quarters. When the Rockets finally began defending and taking care of the ball again, they made their move. They took a 11-2 run to a 100-100 tie heading into the final five minutes. The teams kept it tight the rest of the way. P.J. Tucker hit a jumper, but James Harden drew a foul and made both free throws to tie the game. After Tucker put in the rebound of a Gerald Green airball, Harden beat him to board a Beverley miss and scored, tying the game with one minute remaining. Finally, Markieff Morris got a step on Howard, finishing his layup through a Donatas Motiejunas foul for a 110-108 Phoenix lead with 46.3 seconds left. The Rockets called time out and ran pick-and-roll with Harden driving around a Howard screen and finding Beverley open on the wing. Beverley nailed his 3-pointer, putting the Rockets ahead with 34.3 seconds left. And when Green missed, Beverley battled for the rebound, forcing the Suns to foul him to stop the clock. He made both free throws for a three-point Rockets lead with 20 seconds left.
Rockets’ 4th quarter defense stifles Suns
Houston Chronicle | Feb 24