Sunny in Chicago
Very little has slowed down the high-powered Phoenix Suns lately. Especially teams from the Eastern Conference.
The Pacific Division-leading Suns look to carry some momentum from a thrilling comeback win and continue their dominance over the East when they wrap up a four-game road trip against the struggling Chicago Bulls on Sunday.
Phoenix (31-13) rallied from an 18-point deficit to defeat Cleveland 110-108 on Friday, as Shawn Marion hit a baseline floater with 1.1 seconds remaining. That improved the Suns' record against the East to 17-2.
The Suns also lead the league in scoring (110.0 points per game), and made 17-of-33 3-pointers en route to their fifth win in six games.
"Luckily tonight we picked it up and that's something to build on," said Steve Nash, who went 7-of-9 from beyond the arc. "As long as we're fighting like that most of the time, we've got to be happy. It was a great win."
Nash finished with 26 points and nine assists against the Cavaliers, and is averaging 28.0 points and 11.7 assists in his last three games.
Phoenix beat the Bulls 112-102 on Nov. 15, and have won six of seven over them since Nash rejoined the Suns before the 2004-05 season. The only loss in that span was a 116-103 setback in Phoenix on Feb. 11, a game Nash missed due to right shoulder inflammation.
The two-time league MVP is averaging 13.2 points and 10.5 assists in those six victories over the Bulls.
Marion had 21 points and nine boards against the Bulls in November, and is averaging 21.5 points and 13.2 boards in his last six games against them.
In the Suns' last game in Chicago on Jan. 2, 2007, the Bulls squandered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, as Leandro Barbosa hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left to lead the Suns a 97-96 victory. Phoenix has won three straight in Chicago.
The Suns begin play one half-game back of Western Conference-leading New Orleans, and 2 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Los Angeles Lakers in the Pacific.
Chicago (17-25) is just 3-11 against the West, and 9-12 at the United Center this season after recording an East-leading 31-10 home record in 2006-07.
The Bulls lost to Charlotte 99-77 at home on Friday, and have dropped five of their last eight. Andres Nocioni scored 25 points for the Bulls, who were out their top two scorers, Ben Gordon (wrist) and Luol Deng (Achilles' tendinitis).
"Our inconsistency showed again," Chicago interim coach Jim Boylan said. "It is difficult to understand why we have problems motivating ourselves. I know we are missing two of our main scorers. We should be able to step up and fill those voids with the guys we have.''
Gordon, who is averaging 19.6 points, was injured in Monday's 104-90 loss at Memphis, and hopes to return for this game. He scored 24 points against the Suns earlier this season, and is averaging 32.8 points in his last four games against them.
Deng, who is averaging 17.9 points, is expected to miss one to three weeks.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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