HOUSTON, TX - Donatas Motiejunas scored a career-high 19 points to lead five Houston starters in double figures and the Rockets routed the Phoenix Suns 111-81 on Wednesday night.
James Harden scored 18 and Omer Asik had 14 for the Rockets, who stayed in the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference standings.
Wesley Johnson scored 10 of his 15 points in the first quarter for the Suns, who lost to Houston for just the fourth time in the last 14 meetings. Luis Scola had four points and four rebounds in his first game in Houston since the Rockets designated him as their amnesty cut last summer.
Houston had all five starters in double figures for the 11th time this season.
The Rockets led 30-25 after one quarter after sinking four 3-pointers. Johnson scored 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the opening quarter to carry the Suns, who trailed despite hitting 12 of their first 20 shots.
Four of Houston's five starters were back on the floor with just under eight minutes left in the first half and the scored tied at 34-all. Phoenix continued to shoot well, though, and took a 43-38 lead on Jared Dudley's 3-pointer.
The Rockets answered with a 15-0 run, finished by Asik's dunk, for a 53-43 lead. Markieff Morris scored inside at the other end to end a four-minute scoring drought for the Suns. Harden scored on a drive and sank a 3-pointer to put Houston up 58-45 at the break. Harden and Jeremy Lin had 24 points together in the first half.
Houston continued to find room inside in the third quarter, and another dunk by Asik put the Rockets up 62-48. Chandler Parsons blocked a shot and then finished a fast break with a layup. Scola fouled him at the rim and Parsons sank the free throw to stretch Houston's lead to 17.
Parsons had one of the highlights of the night when he slammed home Harden's alley-oop feed for a 76-56 lead with 5:46 still left in the third quarter. Harden found Greg Smith open underneath for another easy dunk three minutes later as Houston pulled away. Motiejunas drove past Michael Beasley for a hook shot to set a new career high in the last minute of the quarter.
The Rockets hit 12 of 20 shots and outscored Phoenix 32-17 in the third quarter.
The game in hand, the crowd started chanting for popular point guard Aaron Brooks, who returned to the Rockets after he was cut by Sacramento on March 1. Brooks, who played his first four NBA seasons with Houston, checked into the game with 5:02 remaining and prompted one of the loudest cheers of the night when he sank a 3-pointer.
Scola got a warm reception, too. The Argentine forward played his first five NBA seasons in Houston before signing with the Suns last July. The 6-foot-9 Scola was always a fan favorite here and took in cheers when he was introduced. After the first quarter, Scola and most of his teammates watched a video tribute played on the giant scoreboard and Scola waved to acknowledge a standing ovation when it ended.
Goran Dragic, another former Rocket, had 11 points and four assists for the Suns. Dragic signed a four-year, $30 million contract with the Suns in the offseason after averaging 11.7 points and 5.3 assists in 66 games for Houston in 2011-12.
Notes: Suns C Jermaine O'Neal played after missing four games to be with his daughter, who had successful heart surgery earlier this week. ... Dragic had three steals and now has at least one steal in 50 of 63 games this season. ... The Rockets went 10-for-21 from 3-point range and have hit at least 10 3-pointers in 39 games this season. ... Asik started after he was listed as a "game-time" decision with a groin injury.
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