PHOENIX (AP) — Goran Dragic is the Phoenix Suns' table-setter, a guard who can score but who had also averaged 10.8 assists in nine games since the All-Star break.
Dragic recorded just one assist in a 107-105 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday, but that pass was an energizer midway through the fourth quarter that put Phoenix in position to win.
With 5:57 left in the fourth quarter, Dragic dived for a loose ball and got it to teammate Kendall Marshall, who banked in a long jumper as the shot clock buzzer sounded for a 93-86 lead.
Dragic also scored 13 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter against his former team, and the Suns overcame 38 points from Rockets star James Harden and Houston's 19 3-pointers.
"They defended me well. I couldn't find the open guy. Even if I found the open guy, they were closing and contesting the shots," Dragic said. "I know that I had only one assist, but that was one of the best assists ever. Kendall made a crazy shot."
Phoenix, far out of playoff contention, has three straight wins over the postseason-hopeful Rockets and is 10-3 in the last 13 meetings.
Harden brought the Rockets back with a 3-pointer with 5:25 to play, followed by a basket and free throw to make it 93-92. But Dragic made back-to-back baskets for 97-92 lead, and the Suns gave up a last-second 3 for the final margin of victory.
"We can't look at the Phoenix Suns and their roster," Harden said. "We've got to go out there and compete and play hard every possession. Times like this, we need wins. We just let another one slip away from us."
Jared Dudley scored 22 points and the Suns, missing injured starting center Marcin Gortat, got an unlikely solid contribution from reserve Hamed Haddadi. He played 28 minutes, scored six points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked three shots, all either setting or tying season highs.
"Haddadi was a great neutralizer for us," Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said.
The Rockets (34-30) got 21 points off the bench from Carlos Delfino and 14 from forward Chandler Parsons.
"No excuses. They played better than us," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "Goran down the stretch made some big plays.There is a lot of stuff we didn't do. We will look at what we didn't do."
Continue reading this story on the...