The Houston Rockets (52-25), who were without MVP candidate James Harden for the first time this season due to illness, toppled the Phoenix Suns (22-56) 123-116 on Sunday night.

In a contest where Houston needed leadership with their top-scorer and franchise player Harden out, several players took responsibility to stellar effect.

Patrick Beverley, who was playing through right ankle soreness, scored a career-high 26 points to go with nine assists and eight rebounds. Beverley scored 11 of his 26 in the third quarter alone. He revealed after the game that Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni had expected him to carry the weight of Harden’s scoring responsibilities.

Beverley stated via USA Today:

“Coach walked up to me (and said), ‘We need a triple-double out of you tonight,” Beverley said of the conversation with Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who told him Harden was out. “I know I’m not even close to what James Harden is, but I just try to go out and try to lead these guys by example.”

As well as Beverley, Sixth Man of the Year candidate Lou Williams put in an admirable shift, as he scored 16 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. Troy Daniels, who was called up from the D-League early Sunday, notched a career-high 21 points, shooting 6-of-9 from three-point range and scored 18 in the first half.

Tyler Ulis had a stand-out night for Phoenix, who were swept by Houston in a regular season series for the first time in franchise history. With his career night, Ulis scored 34 points, grabbed nine boards and dished nine assists. Between the rookie and second-year guard Devin Booker (27 points, nine assists), the pair tallied a whopping 61 points.

The Rockets took the lead just before halftime and never surrendered, despite a late comeback attempt from the Suns led by Ulis. This win for Houston snaps a three-game losing streak, and subsequently sends Phoenix to the bottom of the Western Conference, as well as their 12th straight loss.

The Rockets will next face the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, in their second-to-last home game of the regular season. While the Suns schedule doesn’t get any easier, they will host the Golden State Warriors on the 5th.

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