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News » Suns-Wizards Preview

Suns-Wizards Preview

Suns-Wizards Preview
The Phoenix Suns have a chance to end their season-long road trip on a winning note. The Washington Wizards, meanwhile, are looking to rebound from their own miserable stretch away from home.

The Suns (24-18) conclude their six-game trek Monday at the Verizon Center against the lowly Wizards (9-34), who have dropped three of four since their last home game.

With Sunday's 104-99 victory in Atlanta, Phoenix snapped a three-game losing streak behind 23 points from Amare Stoudemire, 20 from Leandro Barbosa and a defense that allowed one field goal over the final 6:06.

"Maybe guys were just tired of losing," guard Steve Nash said. "I just thought we were more determined. I thought there was more fight in us."

The victory also gives the Suns an opportunity Monday to win consecutive games for the first time in nearly two weeks and earn a 3-3 record on their road trip. Phoenix has won three straight overall against Washington while also winning the past three meetings at the Verizon Center.

Although they have the edge in recent history, the Suns could benefit by taking better care of the ball.

Phoenix, tied for last in the league with 16.5 turnovers per game, committed 21 miscues in Sunday's game. That followed a season-high 24 turnovers in a 98-76 loss Friday in Charlotte - the team's most lopsided defeat of the season.

The Suns, who also had their fewest points and shot a season-worst 36.0 percent Friday, bounced back against the Hawks to hit 55.4 percent from the field.

"We did a lot of soul searching - team meetings, talks," Grant Hill said. "It all comes down to guys (either) make shots or miss shots."

Phoenix remains the league's top shooting team - 49.6 percent - and is among the league leaders with 103.8 points per game. Shaquille O'Neal's resurgence has certainly helped keep the offense clicking.

Since scoring a season-high 35 Dec. 9 against Milwaukee, O'Neal has scored 21.6 points per game and built his season average to 17.9 - his best output since 2005-06 and more than four points higher than last season (13.6).

After coming to the Suns in a trade with Miami on Feb. 6, the future Hall of Famer had five 20-point performances in his first 46 games with Phoenix. In the past 24 contests, O'Neal has scored 20 or more points 10 times and just missed another Sunday, finishing with 19.

He is expected to play in Monday's second game of the back-to-back.

Washington's 1-3 road trip is part of a string of nine losses in the last 11 games for the Eastern Conference's worst team.

In Saturday's 100-87 loss at Portland, the Wizards fell behind 19-8 to start the game and trailed for all but 23 seconds after that in their second straight loss.

"I thought we could have done better as a group," said Caron Butler, who led Washington with 31 points and 10 rebounds. "When our guys come in, we have to realize no one is feeling sorry for us."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: January 26, 2009


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