NBA Preview: Phoenix Suns at Washington Wizards - Suns Favored
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The Washington Wizards snapped the Phoenix Suns' franchise-record 15-game winning streak last month. Now the Wizards get another chance to end another long unbeaten run by the Suns when the NBA's highest-scoring teams meet at the Verizon Center on Tuesday night.
Washington defeated Phoenix 144-139 in overtime Dec. 22 to stop the Suns' 15-game run. Gilbert Arenas scored 54 points to lift the Wizards, who come into this contest second in the league with 107.5 points per game, past the Suns, who average 111.5.
That game was played at the U.S. Airways Center. Tuesday's season series finale will be on Washington's home floor, and the Wizards (24-16) will face a Suns team that's riding a 13-game winning streak.
``I'm not even going to address that,'' Wizards forward Caron Butler said. ``Because I don't want to jinx us.''
Washington, an Eastern Conference-best 17-3 at home, will look for a repeat performance from Arenas, who shot 21-of-37 from the floor in the December matchup and was 6-for-12 from 3-point range as he posted the second-highest point total ever against the Suns.
The Wizards haven't lost at the Verizon Center since Dec. 9 and have won four in a row overall. Washington also ended Dallas' 12-game winning streak Dec. 4.
Arenas struggled in the Wizards' last game, shooting 2-for-10 in the third and fourth quarters and finishing with just 22 points against Boston on Saturday, but Washington managed to win 115-110 in overtime for its 10th consecutive home victory.
``We got lackadaisical,'' said Arenas, whose team blew a 21-point second-half lead against the injury-plagued Celtics. ``They came back and made a great run, and we had to win it in overtime. We had to dig down deep. People were fatigued. But, like professionals, we came out and we got the win.''
While the Wizards have been dominant at home of late, the Suns (32-8) have been all but unbeatable regardless of where they play. Phoenix is 29-2 in its last 31 games and has yet to lose in the new year. The Suns have won five in a row on the road.
``We've had some breaks,'' coach Mike D'Antoni said, ``but at the same time we've played good basketball, and we haven't beat ourselves in a lot of games. It's going to take somebody to play a great game like Dallas or Washington did to beat us.''
The Suns showed that Sunday by overwhelming Minnesota 131-102. Amare Stoudemire had 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting, and Shawn Marion scored 17 points while grabbing a season-high 20 rebounds in just 30 minutes of action.
Marion's 11 second-quarter boards tied a U.S. Airways Center record set by Charles Barkley on Nov. 2, 1996.
``I just think it means we're a very good team and that we're hopefully building something special,'' Phoenix point guard Steve Nash said of the Suns' latest run. ``These streaks are meaningless to the guys out here. I hope it's fun for the fans and the media, but for us it's all about trying to get better and preparing for the playoffs.''
Only seven other teams have had two win streaks of at least 13 games in a season. Five of those clubs went on to win the NBA title.
The Suns will be opening a five-game road trip in Washington, where they are 2-7 in their last nine visits.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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