The 2012-13 Phoenix Suns have invented new ways to lose games this season, but Tuesday's 101-98 loss to the Houson Rockets takes the cake.
In a game that had playoff implications for Houston, Lindsey Hunter's squad went toe-to-toe with the Rockets for 47:59. However, it was the last second that sent Phoenix home with its season-high tenth straight loss.
Rockets guard James Harden attempted a game-winning three from the wing just before the buzzer, but the former ASU star's shot bounced off the front rim and into the air.
Unfortunately, 17-year-veteran Jermaine O'Neal failed to let the ball fall off the rim, and instead tapped it away thinking the teams were headed for overtime.
But O'Neal was called for goaltending, and with the loss the Suns secured the second-worst record in franchise history.
For a team that had nothing to play for but pride, the Suns didn't let up. Phoenix looked intent to play spoiler all night.
Just days after his rather candid remarks, Luis Scola backed them up with one of his best offensive performances of the season (28 points on 12-of-20 shooting).
Markieff Morris had a nice night from three-point range, hitting all three of his attempts. The second-year forward also had a nice game on the glass (nine rebounds) against Greg Smith.
Marcus Morris also proved to be a factor for Phoenix in his second return to the Toyota Center. Morris scored in double figures (11 points) for the first time in nearly a month.
In the two teams' last meeting on March 13, the Suns committed 22 turnovers en route to a 30-point loss. Tuesday, Phoenix again shot itself in the foot against the Rockets. Houston scored 23 points off 19 Suns' turnovers.
It didn't matter who guarded Omer Asik Tuesday night -- whether it was Jermaine O'Neal, Luis Scola or Markieff Morris. The trio was completely ineffective in getting the Houston center off the boards. Asik tied a season-high with 22 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive glass.
He Said It:
"Tonight was a great start for us competitive-wise. We did everything in our power to come out with a win, but it didn't happen." -- Suns interim head coach Lindsey Hunter
• The Suns are now three games shy of tying the longest losing streak (13) in franchise history set back in 1996-97.
• James Harden must love seeing the purple and orange. Heading into Tuesday night's game, the All-Star guard had averaged 29.0 points per game against Phoenix this season. Harden added to that mark, pouring in a game-high 33 points, including the game-winning three-point shot he was credited for following the goaltending call.
The Suns (23-55) continue their road swing Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MST.