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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rockets lose to Kevin Durant, Eric Gordon and the Suns, 129-113

POSTED: December 27, 2023 -- 11:25 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets lost 129-113 to the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night. Houston has lost consecutive home games for the first time this season.

Former Rockets guard Eric Gordon lit up the Rockets with a season-high 27 points on 10 for 15 field goal shooting including 7 for 11 from long range. Kevin Durant carved up Houston's defense with 27 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high tying 16 assists.

Durant's triple-double is his first with the Suns and 18th in his Hall-of-Fame career.

Houston (15-14) trailed Phoenix (15-15) by 30-24 at the end of the first quarter. Suns guard Grayson Allen scored 10 points in the first quarter. KD dished out 3 assists in the opening period. Devin Booker passed out 4 dimes as the Suns had 8 assists on their 11 baskets in the quarter.

Jalen Green had the ball in his hands more in the first quarter. Green started the game well hitting 2 of his first three attempts; but, he clanged his last 2 attempts and ended the 1st quarter with 4 points on 2 for 5 field goals shooting.

Green had much more success in the second quarter with 12 points on 4 for 6 three-point shooting; however, the Suns sliced up the Rockets' defense. Durant dished out 7 assists -- most of them to Eric Gordon -- as Gordon scored 17 points in the second quarter on 6 for 7 shooting including 5 for 6 on threes.

Phoenix outscored Houston 43-31 in the second period. The Suns shot 72.1 fg% (16 for 21) in the quarter. Houston trailed 73-55 at the half.

Alperen Sengun scored 11 points in the third quarter; however, the Rockets did not get closer than 13 to the Suns in the quarter and lost the quarter 31-29 to trail by 20 (104-84) after 3 quarters. Phoenix shot 63.2 fg% (12 for 19) in the third.

Phoenix's hot shooting cooled a bit in the final quarter. The Suns only shot 44.4 fg% in the final quarter; but, the Rockets only made 10 of 26 (38.5 fg%) in the period and, again, did not closer than 13.

Houston forward Dillon Brooks did not play in the game because of a right oblique strain; and, during the game, Jabari Smith Jr sprained his left ankle and was limited to just 22 minutes of action.

With Brooks out, Jae'Sean Tate got the start and the task of defending Durant.

"I think early on in the game, we did a pretty good job,", Tate said of KD. "He got it going there at the end. EG had it going tonight. We gave him too many open looks and that hurts us."

Houston's lone bright spot was Jalen Green's 6 for 12 three-point shooting and the 23 points he scored. Green snapped a nine-game streak of scoring below 20 which was the second-longest of his career.

After the game, Green said he did not lose confidence in himself. He took his shooting slump as a lesson to learn and grown from.

"Just keep shooting. Don't lose your confidence. Believe in yourself," Green said in the locker room.

The Rockets are 0-9 when allowing 120+ points this season.

The Suns finished the game making 47 of 82 field goal attempts for 57.3 fg%. Phoenix also outrebounded Houston 44-33. Houston has been outrebounded in five of the past seven games after that occurred just once the 11 games prior. The Rockets are 10-4 when outrebounding opponents this season and 5-10 when failing to do so.


Alperen Sengun had 24 points in 29 minutes of play. He has scored 20+ points in six of the past seven games, including four straight, and is averaging 24.4 ppg on 55.1% shooting over that span after scoring below 20 points in a season-high four games prior from Dec. 8 - Dec. 15.

Rockets rookie Cam Whitmore had 12 points in 18 minutes of play while shooting 4 for 7 from the floor. Whitmore has a total of 46 points in 64 minutes played this season. He shot 3 for 4 from 3-point range tonight after shooting 2 for 11 his first six games played.


The Rockets' next game is Friday, December 29, at home, against the Philadelphia 76ers. Tip is set for 7 p.m. Central Time.

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Jalen Green: "Just keep shooting. Don't lose your confidence. Believe in yourself."

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