On a day when giving was the norm, the Phoenix Suns did the taking.

Kevin Johnson, who had 36 points and nine rebounds, said the real Suns showed up in a 111-91 Christmas Day victory over Houston, which tied an NBA record with a 22-1 start but since has lost two straight.Phoenix is headed the other way, beating Seattle and the Rockets after losing by 26 points at Denver on Tuesday.

"The trademark of our team has always been that if we play poorly or underachieve, we come back and play well," Johnson said.

"It's a couple of wins," coach Paul Westphal said. "We like them, but we're not going to make any more of it than that."

The Suns' aggressive defense stopped Houston's perimeter game, and Phoenix neutralized its height disadvantage by outrebounding the Rockets 53-35.

Charles Barkley tied his season high with 38 points and had 18 rebounds, and A.C. Green collected 14 rebounds. He also scored seven of his 17 points in the final 2:40.

Hakeem Olajuwon had 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Rockets, and Robert Horry scored 20 points.

Johnson had 18 points in the second quarter, when the Suns took advantage of fast-break baskets to expand a 24-21 first-quarter lead to a 61-39 bulge at halftime.

"There is no one in the league we would beat when you allow 32 transition points in the first half," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "You can't beat any team like that. We really had too many mental errors."

Olajuwon said the Rockets came in planning to slow down the Suns, who were averaging 110 points a game.

"To beat this team, you have to make them play five-on-five basketball, which was our game plan, but we gave them too many opportunities to get easy baskets," Olajuwon said.

Barkley scored 13 points in the third period, helping the Suns to an 84-68 lead. But the Suns went 4:45 without a point early in the fourth quarter and Olajuwon led a 12-0 rally.

The dominating center started the run with a basket and finished it with a three-point play, shaving the deficit to 88-82 with 7:10 remaining.

But Barkley snapped his team out of its funk with an offensive rebound. Although he missed the layup, Barkley was fouled and made two free throws, and the Suns went on a 7-0 run to open breathing space.

"Nobody can play at the level we were playing at the first three quarters," Barkley said. "They made a run, but we hung on."

The Suns stopped a three-game road winning streak by the Rockets, who dropped to 0-2 in games when an opponent made more than half its shots. The Suns shot 52.4 percent to 39.8 for Houston.

Horry got the last six Houston points in the first period with three dunks in the final 2:49, helping the Rockets pull within 24-21.

Otis Thorpe tied it at 24 with a three-point play 14 seconds into the second, but that was as close as the Rockets could get to the lead. The Suns outscored them 37-15 the rest of the half.

Johnson answered Thorpe with a three-point play of his own, then stole the ball from Sam Cassell at midcourt for a layup that made it 29-24 only 32 seconds into the period.

Bulls 95, Magic 93

In Chicago, Toni Kukoc made the game-winning shot, but it was Scottie Pippen, reviving memories of Michael Jordan and Christmas past, who made it possible by engineering a fourth-quarter comeback that carried Chicago to over Orlando.

The victory, secured when the Magic's Nick Anderson failed to get off a shot at the buzzer, was made possible when Kukoc's running left-hander into the lane broke a 93-93 tie with two seconds remaining.

But it was Pippen, scoring 28 points and playing both ends of the floor in the final quarter like the just-retired Jordan, who almost willed the Bulls to their ninth straight victory, the NBA's longest current win streak. Kukoc and B.J. Armstrong added 17 each for Chicago.

The Magic began the final quarter ahead 74-70, only to watch the lead disappear because of Pippen and their own sputtering offense through the opening three minutes.

Pippen leveled the game at 74 with consecutive baskets, the first a short jumper and the second, a tip-in off a missed Kukoc shot. Bill Wennington followed by giving the Bulls their first lead since the first quarter with one of two free throws at the 11-minute mark, then widened it to 77-74 with a spectacular, one-handed rebound dunk of another Kukoc miss.

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Jeff Turner revived the Magic with back-to-back jumpers, and a Shaquille O'Neal slam at 5:04 gave Orlando the lead back at 84-83.

But Pippen, who played all 48 minutes finished with, four steals, six assists and eight rebounds, grabbed his final rebound after B.J. Armstrong missed a short jumper and set up Armstrong a second time in the left corner. Armstrong's 3-pointer at the 2-minute mark put Chicago ahead 93-90.

A final basket by O'Neal at 1:45 pulled Orlando within 93-92, but Nick Anderson managed no better than a tie at 93 when he made only one of his two free throws with 16 seconds remaining.

That set the stage for Kukoc's heroics.

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