Houston 107, Phoenix 89

PHOENIX, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Glen Rice scored a season high-tying 23 points Wednesday night, including a season-best seven three-pointers, to lead a balanced scoring effort as the Houston Rockets easily defeated the Phoenix Suns, 107-89.

Houston won for only the second time in seven games.


Cuttino Mobley added 22 points for the Rockets, who received just five points from All-Star point guard Steve Francis before he exited the contest in the third quarter with a lower back strain.

The Rockets trailed by eight points in the opening minutes but rallied to take a 50-40 edge into the break behind 11 points from Rice and 10 from Moochie Norris. Houston extended its advantage to 77-61 entering the fourth quarter and blew open the game behind four three-pointers by Rice in the final period.

Rookie Yao Ming contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds and Eddie Griffin 12 and 10 for Houston, which dominated the glass, 57-32. The Rockets' bench outscored the Suns' reserves, 47-16.

The Rockets kept pace with the Lakers for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot and moved within 1 1/2 games of seventh-place Phoenix.


Shawn Marion scored 24 points -- 23 in the second half -- and Stephon Marbury 22 for Phoenix, which finished its season-high six-game homestand at 3-3.

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