(Sports Network) - Desperate teams meet in the desert Tuesday when the resurgent Houston Rockets visit the Phoenix Suns in a key Western Conference matchup.
Both the Rockets and Suns have been playing well recently but are on the outside, looking in at the West playoff picture. Phoenix currently holds the ninth slot, two games shy of Memphis while Houston is in 11th, three south of the Grizzlies.
The Rockets went over .500 (33-32) for the first time this season in the opener of a brief two-game road trip on Monday when Chase Budinger finished 4- for-6 from beyond the three-point arc en route to 20 points as Houston topped Sacramento, 123-101.
Kyle Lowry had 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Rockets, who won for the seventh time in eight games overall. Courtney Lee had 19 points and Kevin Martin added 15 in the win, Rick Adelman's 935th as an NBA coach, tying him with Dick Motta for 10th on the NBA's all-time list.
"Our goal is to keep this post All-Star break record going," Martin said. "We are just going to continue to keep playing hard."
The Suns, who are opening up a three-game homestand tonight, finished a grueling six-game road trip in losing fashion on Sunday when Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 32 points and dished out 11 assists as the Thunder topped the Suns, 122-118, in a high-scoring overtime affair at Oklahoma City Arena.
Vince Carter paced the Suns with 29 points, including a three-pointer to send the game into overtime, while both Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus scored 20 for Phoenix, which dropped two of three to end the trip but was an impressive 4-2 overall.
Steve Nash and Channing Frye both scored 11 points in the loss. Nash dished out 14 assists while Frye grabbed a career-high 15 boards before leaving the game with 6 1/2 remaining in the fourth with a dislocated right shoulder.
Frye was driving into the lane and collided with his right arm into the forearm of a Suns defender. Frye immediately grabbed his shoulder and was attended to by the training staff before heading to the bench. An MRI revealed a the dislocated right shoulder and Frye, who made two last-second game- winning shots on the Suns' recent trip, is expected to miss two-to-three weeks.
"He's the one guy that we really can't afford to lose," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said. "He's been great for us."
These two teams swapped reserve point guards at the trade deadline on Feb. 24 with Houston sending Aaron Brooks to Phoenix for Goran Dragic. Brooks has averaged 8.8 points in five games with the Suns and Dragic has averaged 7.8 in five with the Rockets.
The Suns have won six straight over the Rockets, including a 123-116 win in south Texas back in November.