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Devin Booker scores 35 points, Kevin Durant adds 24 to help the Suns beat the Rockets, 110-105

PHOENIX (AP) — Devin Booker scored 35 points, Kevin Durant added 24 and the Phoenix Suns held off the Houston Rockets 110-105 on Thursday night to open a two-game series.

The teams will meet again in Phoenix on Saturday night.

Booker scored 20 points in the first quarter to help give the Suns an 18-point lead they would never relinquish. He has scored at least 20 points in an NBA-high six quarters this season.

Jusuf Nurkic added 16 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks before fouling out. Bradley Beal missed his fifth straight game because of a hamstring injury.

The Suns took an 86-75 lead into the final quarter. Houston cut the advantage to six midway through the fourth, but Booker responded immediately with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to nine.

That led to a brief skirmish between Booker and Houston's Cam Whitmore, who both received technical fouls. Nurkic blocked Whitmore twice on the ensuing possession, which drew huge roars from the home crowd.

Tempers stayed hot over the next few minutes — Houston's Alperen Sengun fouled out and then got two quick technicals, earning an ejection.

Booker hit both of the technical free throws, Nurkic followed with his two free throws from Sengun's foul, and that pushed the Suns' lead to 99-84. The Rockets would cut that lead to four with 16.9 seconds left, but Royce O'Neale hit two free throws to end the threat.

Jalen Green led Houston with 34 points. Fred VanVleet added 21. The Rockets connected on just 11 of 45 3-pointers.

Phoenix has won seven of its past 10 — and nine in a row at home — as it tries to stay in the top six of the Western Conference playoff race and avoid the play-in tournament. The sliding Rockets have lost eight of 10.

Booker's big first quarter pushed the Suns to a 33-17 lead. The four-time All-Star made 8 of 10 shots from the field, including a 33-foot 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Phoenix settled for a 64-53 halftime lead. Booker had 26 points before the break while Green led Houston with 21.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

David Brandt, The Associated Press