Heavy Betting on Road Favorite Suns as They Face Off Against Nets
Phoenix opens its Eastern Conference jaunt Thursday, looking to win its eighth game in a row as it visits the stumbling New Jersey Nets.
Steve Nash had an NBA season-high 20 assists and scored 11 points to help the Suns (10-6) extend their winning streak to seven games Tuesday with a 127-102 rout of the Sacramento Kings.
“He’s the motor that makes this whole thing go,” Suns guard Raja Bell said of the two-time MVP Nash, who leads the league with 11.4 assists per game and is averaging a career-high 19.9 points thus far this season.
Nash’s 20-assist performance against the Kings was the second of his career. He had a career-best 22 on Jan. 2 at New York, but followed that game with only six in a victory over Philadelphia.
Nash had 26 points and 13 assists in a 99-93 win Nov. 24 over the Nets, their fifth win in the last six games over New Jersey. Phoenix, though, has dropped five of six at Continental Airlines Arena.
The Suns’ visit to East Rutherford, N.J., starts a five-game, seven-day swing that also makes stops at Boston, Charlotte and Orlando before ending Wednesday against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. Phoenix has another five-game road trip scheduled from Jan. 23-29, 2007.
“We have an opportunity to show some people that we are a good team and you show them that by going out on the road and winning when you’re on a road trip like that,” Bell said. “Everybody can protect their home court, but this will be an opportunity to show people what we’re all about.”
Five of the Suns’ wins during the streak have come at home. They are 2-4 on the road this season, scoring an average of 111.5 points but allowing 111.7 points, 12 more than at US Airways Center.
The Nets (7-10) hope to rebound from a 92-75 loss Tuesday to Dallas which prevented them from winning a season-high three consecutive games after dropping their previous six.
“It is disappointing,” Nets point guard Jason Kidd said. “Just when we thought we were going in the right direction we have tonight’s performance.”
Kidd had 10 points and eight assists in a loss that produced the team’s second-lowest scoring output of the season while shooting only 35.1 percent. They lost 86-68 to Portland on Nov. 18, when they hit only 33.3 percent from the field to start the six-game skid.
“Whenever you don’t score points, you lack energy,” Nets forward Richard Jefferson said. “We couldn’t hit shots, we missed our first 10 shots and I don’t know if we got discouraged and started to press later in the game. We got good looks, we just weren’t making them.”
The Nets have topped the 100-point mark in six of their wins, but are averaging 90.9 points in the losses.
The team has struggled from 3-point range in the last nine games, making 29-of-120 shots for 24.2 percent. In their two wins during that span, the Nets have converted 10-of-27 (37.0 percent) from beyond the arc.
New Jersey may need to improve on that against a Phoenix squad that is among the league leaders, shooting 39.0 percent from 3-point range and making 9.7 per game.
By: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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