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Ariza and Beverley lead Rockets over Suns 100-95

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Rockets have the NBA’s second-best record, and don’t even have All-Star Dwight Howard and several key pieces.

“Once we get our full team back and ready to go, we’re going to be a problem,” James Harden said.

Trevor Ariza and Pat Beverley each scored 19 points to lead the Rockets to their fourth straight victory, 100-95 over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.

Houston improved to 16-4 by winning for the seventh time in the nine games Howard (knee strain) has been out.

The Rockets got a boost off the bench with the return of Beverley, who had missed the last six games with a hamstring injury.

“We don’t win that game unless Pat plays,” coach Kevin McHale said. “He made some big 3s and got some huge offensive rebounds. We were really struggling. We were running out of gas.”

The Rockets never trailed and led by as many as 22 points. The Suns used an 8-2 run, capped by a tip-in by PJ Tucker, to cut the lead to 97-93 with 21 seconds remaining.

But Beverley made three free throws after that to make it 100-93 and Houston held on for the win.

Eric Bledsoe led the Suns with 23 points.

“We outplayed them in the second half, but you can’t get down 20 at the half,” Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said.

Donatas Motiejunas continued his recent strong play with 16 points and 11 rebounds for his career-best fourth straight game scoring at least 10. Harden had 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

Gerald Green added 16 points for the Suns and Tucker had 15.

Phoenix used an 11-2 run get within 92-85 with about 3

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