Daily Confidential

After losing just twice over a 35-game stretch, the Phoenix Suns have been defeated three times in their last six contests.

The Suns (39-11) look to get back to their dominating ways Sunday when they host the Chicago Bulls, a team they haven't lost to at home in more than 10 years.

The Suns have won five straight overall against the Bulls (28-23) and haven't lost to them in Phoenix since Nov. 20, 1996, when Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen each scored 37 points to lead Chicago to a 113-99 victory.

The Suns' eight-game home winning streak in the series has come by an average of 12.3 points, with the last three of those contests having been decided by an average of 16.0 points.

Phoenix could get a boost if point guard Steve Nash returns as it looks to extend that streak. The two-time MVP has sat out the last 2 1/2 games with a sore shoulder. While the Suns defeated Denver on Monday as Nash sat out the second half and knocked off Portland on Tuesday without him, Phoenix suffered a 120-111 home loss to lowly Atlanta on Friday night.

The Suns came in with a 20-4 mark at the U.S. Airways Center.

Nash said he was feeling better Friday, and his coach sounded confident the five-time All-Star could be back in the lineup against the Bulls.

"It's still sore," Mike D'Antoni said. "If it improves as much from now until Sunday as it did from yesterday to today, then he will play Sunday."

Nash has 11 points and 13 assists against the Bulls in the teams' last matchup, a 97-96 Suns road victory Jan. 2 that Leandro Barbosa won with a 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining. Nash's teams are unbeaten in the last 14 games he's played against Chicago.

Barbosa scored 19 points in Friday's loss to Atlanta and put the Suns up by one with 5:39 left, but the Hawks went on an 8-0 run and built their lead to nine with 2:36 left. Phoenix couldn't get closer than five again.

Atlanta's Joe Johnson scored 17 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter to burn his former team.

"On a night when you don't have your point guard and things are clicking the way they always do, you've got to pay attention to the smaller things, and we did not do that," Phoenix guard Raja Bell said. "That's what good teams do."

The Suns, who haven't lost back-to-back games since dropping four straight from Nov. 3-9, will be facing a Chicago club that has struggled all season on the road.

The Bulls are 8-17 away from home, and 2-4 on their season high-tying seven-game trip. Chicago has lost three straight, including a disheartening 123-121 overtime defeat to Golden State on Friday.

The Bulls led by 14 going into the fourth quarter, but the Warriors went on a 22-6 run to start the period. Golden State's P.J. Brown tied it with 50 seconds left and the contest went to overtime.

Ben Gordon had a chance to win it for Chicago in the extra period, but his 3-pointer as time expired never hit the rim. Gordon finished with a team-high 24 points.

"We built a nice lead," coach Scott Skiles said. "We just lost focus."

A defeat Sunday would give the Bulls their longest losing streak since a season-high six-game slide between Nov. 14-Nov. 24. All of those defeats came on the road.

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