It was just another rip-your-heart-out kind of night for the Phoenix Suns.
A buzzer-beating jumper by former Arizona State star James Harden allowed the Houston Rockets to escape US Airways Center with a 113-111 win Friday and offset a furious late rally by the Suns.
Phoenix (26-19) capped a 25-9 run with a 3-point play by Markieff Morris to turn a 16-point deficit into a tie game with 16.6 seconds to play. But on Houston’s ensuing possession, Harden ran down the clock and delivered the dagger as the final horn sounded.
Three of the Suns’ last 10 losses have come via last-second shots. They lost in similar fashion at the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 8 and at home against the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 15.
Harden made up for the absence of Dwight Howard, who left in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return, with 33 points, 10 assists and six rebounds Friday for Houston (30-14).
The Suns were led by Eric Bledsoe’s 25 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Markieff Morris added 21 points, and Alex Len had 11 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
Here’s how the Suns’ seven-game home winning streak and four-game overall winning streak were both snapped in brutal fashion Friday, by the numbers:
The Suns’ last two home losses have been delivered on last-second shots. The Bucks beat the Suns 94-92 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Khris Middleton in that Dec. 15 game.
The Suns did an effective job of crashing the offensive boards Friday, securing 13 offensive rebounds to the Rockets’ six. Phoenix out-rebounded Houston 44-41 overall.
The Suns surpassed the century mark for the 15th time in their last 16 games. They’re averaging 107.5 points per game this season; only two teams (the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks) are averaging more.
The Suns didn’t have the touch from 3-point range for most of the night, connecting on just 10-of-30 attempts from the beyond the arc (33.3 percent).
The Suns came into the game with 47 technical fouls on the season, the third-highest total in the NBA. They added two more Friday, as P.J. Tucker and Goran Dragic both picked up techs in the third quarter. Coach Jeff Hornacek sat Dragic for the rest of the game and benched Tucker for the remainder of the quarter.
Even without Howard, the Rockets dominated the Suns inside, scoring 64 points in the paint for the evening. The Suns finished with 46 points in the paint.
The Suns score a lot, but they also yield a lot of points. They’ve surrendered at least 96 points in each of their last 16 games, and at least 100 in 13 of them. Only the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves are allowing more points per game this season than Phoenix, which is yielding 105 per contest.