Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 11/23

Game 1: Wednesday, November 23rd
Game 2: Thursday, February 16th
Game 3: Monday, February 27th

Suns 111

(38-17, 16-9 away)

Rockets 94

(25-32, 10-17 home)

Coverage: FSSW

7:30 PM ET, February 27, 2006

Toyota Center, Houston, TX

1 2 3 4 T
PHX 19 33 30 29111
HOU 25 24 23 2294

Top Performers

Phoenix: S. Marion 30 Pts, 18 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl

Houston: Y. Ming 27 Pts, 18 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl

Marion lifts Suns to seventh consecutive victory

HOUSTON (AP) -- Shawn Marion was surprised to learn his 30-point performance marked the first time he'd reached the mark in three straight games in his NBA career.

"Really? That's crazy, I thought I did that before," he said.

Marion scored 23 of his 30 points in the second half and also had 18 rebounds to help the Phoenix Suns win their seventh straight, 111-94 over the Houston Rockets.

Marion scored 44 points in his first game after the All-Star break and had 31 on Saturday against Charlotte.

The Suns overcame a four-point deficit in the third quarter and took a 69-64 lead with a 9-0 run, highlighted by Steve Nash's acrobatic reverse layup.

Then Marion took over.

He scored on four straight Suns possessions to push the score to 82-72 at the end of the third.

In the fourth, Marion hit a turnaround jumper and two free throws, before 3s by Raja Bell and Leandro Barbosa made the score 92-74.

"I've just been able to get going early and my teammates have been looking for me," he said. "I'm getting the last pass and I'm knocking them down. I just caught a little rhythm right there and people were looking for me."

Things got worse for the Rockets from there as they badly missed easy shots, had passes bounce out of their hands or off their faces and couldn't get anything going.

"Against that team, we're at a quickness disadvantage," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "So it makes it look like an effort disadvantage, when it truly is a quickness thing. And we don't have the habit or discipline."

Marion could have had an even bigger night, but a few wide open shots fell short -- way short.

"It could have been better," he said. "I missed a couple of easy ones that I normally hit. I had a couple of air balls.

I was tired. But hey man I am human."

Even so, Nash said Marion provided the spark.

"He's unbelievable," Nash said. "He scores. He rebounds. He blocks shots, steals the ball. He fills all the gaps for us.

We weren't playing very well there and then he just goes on this little scoring run. ... and it really picked us up."

As unlikely as it seems, the game wasn't as bad as Houston's other two meetings with the Suns this season when the average margin of defeat was 23 points.

It was the Suns' first game since learning that president and general manager Bryan Colangelo had resigned and is expected to join the Toronto Raptors as president and general manager Tuesday.

Nash added 23 points and had 10 assists, and Boris Diaw had 16 points.

The Rockets shot 23 percent from 3-point range, which made it impossible to rebound once they get down by double digits. Houston was again led by Yao Ming, who had 27 points and 18 rebounds.

Juwan Howard had 19 points, and Tracy McGrady added 13.

"You're going to have to shoot the ball, make some shots, which we don't," Van Gundy said. "We're a bad shooting team."

The Rockets, who had won four straight at home, led 44-35 with about 4 minutes left in the half before Phoenix scored 14 straight points, capped by 3s from Eddie House and James Jones, to take a 49-44 lead. The Suns led 52-49 at halftime.

Game notes

Rockets forward Stromile Swift missed his fourth straight game because of a sprained ankle. ... The Suns handed the Rockets their worst loss of the season in their last meeting, beating them 109-75. ... Yao was selected the Western Conference player of the week Monday. He averaged almost 27 points and 16 rebounds in wins over the Clippers, Warriors and Magic.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 111 94
FGM-FGA 41-84 (.488) 38-91 (.418)
3PM-3PA 13-32 (.406) 5-22 (.227)
FTM-FTA 16-19 (.842) 13-16 (.813)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-44 16-46
Assists 28 22
Turnovers 12 15
Steals 7 6
Blocks 2 2
Fast Break Points 12 6
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (1/0) 21 (2/0)
Largest Lead 21 12

Top Performers

Shawn Marion Marion
Points: 30
Reb: 18
Ast: 3
Stl: 3
Blk: 0
Yao Ming Ming
Points: 27
Reb: 18
Ast: 5
Stl: 1
Blk: 0