Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Patrick Beverley returned from a hamstring injury to give the Rockets a big lift, scoring 19 points in Houston's 100-95 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Beverley, who had missed Houston's last five games, knocked down 5-of-8 attempts from 3-point range and added six rebounds off the bench. Trevor Ariza also had 19 points in a game the Rockets led from start-to-finish en route to their seventh win in eight outings.
"We don't win that game unless Pat plays," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale stated.
James Harden offset a 5-of-21 shooting night by posting 12 rebounds and seven assists. He finished with 15 points, while Donatas Motiejunas had 16 along with 11 rebounds.
Phoenix received 23 points from Eric Bledsoe and 16 from sixth man Gerald Green, but couldn't overcome a slow start and build off Friday's 118-106 win at Dallas.
The Rockets were just a day removed from an overtime battle in Minnesota on Friday, but showed no ill effects from the short turnaround. Houston shot a scorching 63.6 percent in the first quarter and built a commanding 35-18 lead after one period, closing out the stanza on a 9-1 run that Beverley began with a 3-point basket.
"We didn't come out with the energy. I don't know why," Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek said. "They played a back-to-back, too. We're just as young as they are. That shouldn't have been an excuse. It's something we've got to figure out with our guys. We told them in the locker room that's the been the fourth or fifth time that we've had to say that this year -- that you have to come ready to play. That's on them to be mentally prepared for the game."
Houston was ahead by as many as 21 points early in the second, though the Suns closed the gap by putting forth a 15-3 surge that trimmed their deficit to 44-35 just past the midway mark of the frame.
The Rockets then countered with a 14-1 sequence, during which Ariza knocked down a key 3-pointer and capped the spurt with two free throws to extend the margin to 58-36. Houston cruised into the break owning a 60-41 advantage.
Phoenix was able to cut into the margin in the third quarter, closing within 71-60 on a Green trey with 3:13 remaining in the period. The Rockets appeared to be pulling away after reclaiming a 16-point lead with under seven minutes left, but the Suns strung together an 11-2 run to cut it to 92-85 with 3:20 remaining.
The margin was just four after P.J. Tucker followed his own miss with 21.4 seconds to play to make the score 97-93. However, Goran Dragic couldn't convert a layup on the Suns' next possession, and Beverley sealed the outcome by hitting two free throws with 12.3 seconds showing.
While Beverley was back in action, teammate Kostas Papanikolaou did not play after spraining his right knee in Friday's game against Minnesota. Houston is still without Dwight Howard (knee), Terrence Jones (leg) and guard Isaiah Canaan (ankle) as well ... Guard Isaiah Thomas sat out for a second straight night for Phoenix due to a bruised ankle ... Tucker finished with 15 points and eight rebounds ... The Rockets outrebounded Phoenix by a 57-40 margin, but had 24 turnovers that the Suns converted into 22 points.