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Kidd Triple-Double's To Victory

When Jason Kidd's Phoenix Suns teammates told him to shoot the ball against the Houston Rockets, he was more than happy to comply.

Kidd recorded his fifth triple-double of the season as the Suns rallied from a 12-point deficit for a 104-90 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

"I shot the ball more than I normally do but I had the shots and the guys kept telling me to shoot it," said Kidd, who helped the Suns snap a four-game home losing streak. "Getaway games are important for any team. Getting this win gets the monkey off our backs."

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  • Kidd, one rebound short of his 24th career triple-double in two of the Suns' last four games, finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists. Phoenix is 11-0 when Kidd records a triple-double.

    "My job is to help them (the frontcourt) out as much as they help me out," Kidd said. "Part of my job is to get the rebound and get the ball up the court as quickly as I can."

    Three of Kidd's triple-doubles have come against the Rockets.

    "The guy is such a winner, such a gamer, it's amazing," said Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich. "I've watched the guy when he's struggled with his shooting but he finds a way to help his team win. He's one of the best competitors I've ever seen."

    Tom Gugliotta scored 17, Danny Manning had 15 and Clifford Robinson added 13 for the Suns, who won for the third time in eight games. Phoenix has won six of its last eight meetings against Houston.

    "We've got guys who can go in spurts and play well," Gugliotta said. "We've got to find a way to blend it all together."

    Charles Barkley scored 21 points, Hakeem Olajuwon had 17 and Sam Mack added 12 for the Rockets, who lost for the second time in their last seven games.

    "It was a game you can't really explain," Olajuwon said. "We had the gme under control and all of a sudden it slips away."

    Chris Morris' 3-pointer with 10:43 remaining gave the Suns their first lead since the second quarter at 72-70. The Rockets battled back to tie the game at 77 on a short hook shot by Olajuwon.

    But Joe Kleine sank a pair of long jumpers and George McCloud added a 3-pointer as the Suns took a 95-83 lead with 2:36 to go.

    The Suns' 37 points in the fourth quarter and 67 points in the second half both were season highs.

    "They out energized us in the second half," Tomjanovich said. "They got their running game going. They got a lot of loose balls and it got into a scramble game that we didn't want to get into."

    Gugliotta scored four points and Kidd added six straight as the Suns opened a 15-8 lead with 3:22 left in the first quarter. But the Rockets, led by Matt Bullard's five points, outscored the Suns 11-0 over the rest of the quarter and the first 2:07 of the second to take a 19-15 lead.

    Mack, making his first appearance since he was acquired by the Rockets from Vancouver on Thursday, hit three 3-pointers in a span of 5:49 to help Houston extend its lead to 43-31 left in the first half.

    "Their team is obviously struggling," Barkley said. "I feel bad for the fans because they have great fans here and what they put on the court now, I feel bad for the fans."

    The Suns rallied within seven at halftime on Gugliotta's six straight points and tied the game at 51-51 on Kidd's 18-foot jumper with 7:18 to go in the third quarter.

    "Jason was unbelievable again," Suns coach Danny Ainge said. "You guys might take him for granted but I certainly don't."

    Cuttino Mobley sank a pair of 3-pointers and Michael Dickerson added a 3 as Houston regained a 64-55 lead. But Phoenix outscored the Rockets 12-4 over the final 3:55 of the quarter to pull within one.

    Notes: The Suns avoided dropping below .500 for the first time since they finished the 1996-97 season 40-42. ... The Rockets' 12 first-quarter points were a season low. ... Rex Chapman returned to the Suns' lineup after missing three games with a bruised right calf. The Suns were without Luc Longley, who bruised his left hip in Phoenix's loss to San Antonio on Friday. ... Arizona Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer was sitting at courtside.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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