HOUSTON (AP) — Mirza Teletovic scored 26 points off the bench, P.J. Tucker added 24 and the Phoenix Suns dealt another blow to the Houston Rockets’ dwindling playoff chances with a 124-115 victory on Thursday night.
It’s the second straight loss for the Rockets, who entered the day in ninth place in the Western Conference after a loss at Dallas on Wednesday.
The game was back and forth through the first few minutes of the fourth quarter before the Suns took over.
They scored 10 straight points, with eight coming on free throws, to take a 117-110 lead with 1:03 left and send fans streaming for the exits.
Four of those free throws came from Devin Booker and he added two more down the stretch to put it out of reach after a 3-pointer by James Harden.
Tyson Chandler added 21 points for the Suns, who snapped a NBA-high, seven-game skid.
Harden led Houston with 30 points.
It was tied at 103 midway through the fourth quarter when Archie Goodwin drove into the lane and was fouled hard by Clint Capela. He made both free throws and Tucker added a layup seconds later to put Phoenix up 107-103.
Phoenix led by four with about 5 1/2 minutes left when Houston scored the next seven points, highlighted by an alley-oop dunk by Clint Capela and helped by three turnovers by the Suns, to make it 110-107.
Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff tried a variety of different lineups, with everyone on the roster getting minutes except for Terrence Jones. He played Josh Smith for almost 18 minutes after playing him only once in the previous 16 games.
Houston led by one to start the fourth quarter and the teams exchanged leads several times in the opening minutes of the period, but neither team got more than two points ahead.
The Rockets led by three at halftime and scored the first 10 points of the third quarter to take a 70-57 lead with 9 minutes left in the quarter. The Suns were awful in that span, committing four turnovers, with two of them coming on shot clock violations.
Tucker finally got the Suns going after that, scoring all of Phoenix’s points in a 10-5 run that cut the lead to 75-67 midway through the quarter.
The Suns led by four later in the period after a 3-pointer by Booker, but Harden scored the last five points of the quarter to take a 90-89 lead into the fourth.
Houston led by as many as 12 in the first half, but the Suns ended the second quarter with a 10-3 run to cut it to 60-57 at halftime.
Suns: Goodwin finished with 16 points. … The Suns got 36 second-chance points to just eight by Houston. … Tucker had 12 rebounds and Chandler grabbed 10.
Rockets: Bickerstaff received a technical in the second quarter for arguing with officials. … Trevor Ariza had 22 points. … Dwight Howard had 10 points, seven rebounds and four blocks.