Rockets rally, hold on to defeat Suns


Jabari Smith Jr., Alperen Sengun and Amen Thompson all recorded double-doubles as the Houston Rockets held on for a 114-110 victory over the visiting Phoenix Suns on Friday.

Smith (22 points, 16 rebounds) sank two free throws with 6.5 seconds remaining before Sengun (17 points, 12 rebounds) added a free throw with 4.1 seconds left to secure the comeback from a 16-point first-quarter deficit.

Rookies Cam Whitmore and Thompson scored 15 points apiece off the Houston bench, with Thompson adding 10 boards. Fred VanVleet hit six 3-pointers and led Houston with 23 points.

Kevin Durant (28 points, 11 rebounds) and Bol Bol (25 points, 14 boards — both season highs) posted double-doubles for the Suns. Devin Booker scored 25 points but missed 17 of 24 shots.

The Rockets turned a 13-4 run to open the third quarter into a 14-point lead, their largest of the game. Houston maintained control throughout the third and carried an 89-76 advantage into the fourth.

But Phoenix erased that deficit with haste in the final period behind Durant and Bol. Durant scored nine of the Suns’ opening 17 points in the fourth. Bol drilled consecutive 3s before scoring through a foul. Bol missed the subsequent free throw, but when he converted a baseline jumper with 5:13 remaining, the Suns seized a 100-98 lead, their first since late in the first half.

Neither team led by more than five points for the remainder of the contest.

The first half was a series of alternating runs, with Phoenix seizing control with a 20-3 rally that resulted in a 22-6 first-quarter lead. The Rockets missed 11 of 13 shots to open the game, a slump snapped by a VanVleet 3-pointer at the 5:09 mark that fueled a 12-2 run.

Thompson and Whitmore were instrumental in helping the Rockets get off the mat, with Thompson scoring in transition and Whitmore from behind the arc. That duo combined for 17 first-half points, but when Whitmore drilled a 3-pointer that pulled Houston to within 36-33, Durant answered with a 3-pointer that sparked a 10-0 blitz by the Suns, resulting in a 46-33 cushion.

But the Rockets closed the half with a 24-6 surge fueled by six 3-pointers, including three from VanVleet, two from Jalen Green and one from Smith. Houston led 57-52 at the intermission despite allowing Phoenix to convert 11 offensive rebounds into 13 second-chance points.