NBA Basketball: Charlotte Bobcats at Phoenix Suns - Suns Favored

Team Page: Charlotte :: Phoenix

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Following a win in which their normally up-tempo offense was sluggish, the Phoenix Suns look to play with more energy on Wednesday as they try to remain perfect against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Owners of the highest-scoring offense in the league at 110.5 points per game, the Suns (46-14) struggled with their aggressiveness in a 99-94 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

Oddsmakers have made Phoenix -15.5 point spread favorites

(NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 217.5 total points (View NBA Sports Books).

They had 16 turnovers and 17 assists, their fewest this season with Steve Nash in the lineup.

"We just didn't have a lot of mojo," said Nash, who had 23 points and 10 assists. "We never really found a lot. We just kind of hung in there and made enough plays when it counted I guess."

Phoenix has never had any problem playing with enthusiasm against Charlotte, though, winning all five meetings in convincing fashion. The Suns are averaging 119.0 points on 50.6 percent shooting against the Bobcats (22-39), defeating them by an average of 15.8 points.

They beat them 114-84 on Dec. 10 as Phoenix blew the game open by outscoring Charlotte by 27 points in the second half. Suns forward Boris Diaw had 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists in that game, and is expected to return to the starting lineup Wednesday after missing nine games with back spasms.

"I'm ready to go," he said after practicing Tuesday. "I've been waiting for a month now. I had a little pain, but it's the kind of pain I can play through."

Shawn Marion returned to action against the Lakers, scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds after missing two games with a right hand contusion.

"It was good to get Shawn Marion back even though he wasn't particularly sharp," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It will be good to get Boris Diaw back. Right now we are just slogging away through the mud, which is better to do now and start regrouping."

Marion had 14 points and nine rebounds against Charlotte earlier this season, and is averaging 23.0 points and 12.8 boards in five games against them.

The Suns are 7-1 since Nash returned from a shoulder injury following the All-Star break after going just 1-3 without him. Phoenix has won 21 of its last 23 games at US Airways Center with Nash in the lineup, and that doesn't bode well for the road-weary Bobcats.

Charlotte has lost the first five games of a season-high six-game trip, and nine of its last 10 away from home. The Bobcats fell 120-95 to Utah on Monday to drop a season-high sixth straight game following a season-high four-game winning streak.

Rarely have the games been close during the skid as Charlotte has been outscored by an average of 18.0 points.

The Bobcats allowed the Jazz to shoot 56.2 percent and their defensive struggles have been their biggest problem during the losing streak. Opponents are shooting 51.4 percent from the floor, including 44.3 percent from 3-point range in the six games.

"The problem is getting stops on the other side," Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "Everybody is focusing on the offensive end - where we're having our problems is on the defensive end."

Gerald Wallace scored 33 points on 13-of-19 shooting Monday, but had just six points and shot 2-for-9 against Phoenix earlier this season.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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