Still In Transition

The Phoenix Suns managed to steal a victory in their second game between the departure of Shawn Marion and the arrival of Shaquille O'Neal. Their transition period will likely last at least one more game.

With O'Neal not expected to make his debut until later this week, the Suns look to close a season-high six-game homestand on a high note Sunday when they meet the similarly short-handed Washington Wizards, who have lost six in a row.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Phoenix -12 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 210 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 53% of bets for this game have been placed on Phoenix -12 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Phoenix (35-15) made a blockbuster trade on Wednesday that sent Marion and reserve guard Marcus Banks to Miami in exchange for O'Neal, who's first among active players in points (25,908) and second in rebounds (11,630) and blocked shots (2,485).

First-year general manager Steve Kerr thinks the deal can help the Suns win the first NBA title in franchise history, but it won't help them do much of anything until O'Neal can play. The 14-time All-Star has been sidelined for two weeks with a hip injury.

Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni would not rule out O'Neal playing Wednesday at Golden State or Thursday at home against Dallas.

Without Marion, Banks or O'Neal on Friday, the Suns shot just 39.5 percent from the field against Seattle. The Sonics, though, called a timeout when they had none remaining while trailing by one point with 15.1 seconds remaining, allowing Phoenix to clinch a 103-99 victory.

"I think there were a lot of distractions going on, obviously, and we were not real sharp," said D'Antoni, whose club fell 132-130 in double-overtime to New Orleans on Wednesday in the first game after the trade. "Yesterday we took the day off completely, and you know, we found a way to win (tonight)."

D'Antoni's club went 32-for-32 from the free-throw line - one shy of the franchise record for most foul shots without a miss.

"We were just focused on the stripe," said Amare Stoudemire, who was two shy of the team's individual record with 15 made foul shots without a miss. "We just went up there, focused in and knocked those shots down."

The Suns are among the league leaders in free-throw shooting at 79.3 percent, but that mark could suffer with the addition of O'Neal - a career 52.4 percent shooter from the line.

"I don't think we'll be setting any records," D'Antoni said, "but he makes them when we need them. That's what he said."

The Wizards (24-25) have lost a season-high six straight games, thanks in part to injuries to several key players.

Last season's leading scorer, Gilbert Arenas, hasn't played since Nov. 16 because of knee surgery and his replacement as Washington's starting point guard, Antonio Daniels, left Friday's 111-100 loss to Denver with a sprained ankle. Plus, All-Star forward Caron Butler has missed five of the last seven games because of a hip injury.

While Arenas will return late this month at the earliest, Butler and Daniels are both questionable for Sunday, when Washington will try to avoid its first seven-game skid since March 5-16, 2004.

The Wizards lost their first meeting with the Suns, 122-107 on Dec. 7. All-Star forward Antawn Jamison had 16 points and 11 rebounds, but shot 7-for-21 from the field. He's 14-for-43 (32.6 percent) in his last three games against Phoenix.

Stoudemire, meanwhile, is 24-for-32 (75.0 percent) in those contests, and was 12-of-14 for 27 points in the first matchup this season.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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