Coming into Wednesday night’s game against the Rockets, the Phoenix Suns had won 10 games in a row, and 29 of their last 32. We’re all realists here. We knew there was no way the Rockets were going to win.
Then compound the fact Tracy McGrady was not going to play because of stiffness in his back — plus the Rockets were on the second night of a back-to-back after losing to Dallas Tuesday night — and you finally had the makings of an old-fashioned blowout loss.
But I have to give the Rockets credit. Although they lost 100-91, they put a scare into the Suns. With the odds stack so much against them, the Rockets led by 15 points in the first half (the Suns’ largest deficit in almost two months!), and still trailed by only 4 points with about 3 minutes remaining.
But after coming within striking distance, the absence of Yao and T-Mac was profound. The Rockets missed their last 6 shots down the stretch for the loss.
However, with the heart the Rockets are showing, if the Rockets finish in one of the top 5 playoff seeds, I say Jeff Van Gundy may deserve consideration for Coach of the Year honors. This effort was incredible against a team as strong as the Suns.
Believe it or not, Rafer Alston was the key to the Rockets’ staying competitive, finishing with a season-high 29 points on 12-of-25 shooting and 8 assists.
It looks like Tracy’s back is going to be fine. It’s not related to the back spasms that knocked him out of a few games earlier in the season. He says he’ll play Friday against Denver.
For the Houston Chronicle story on the game, click here.