After their worst offensive showing of the season, the Phoenix Suns will get a chance to rebound against a team they've dominated in recent years.
The Western Conference-leading Suns will try to avoid their first-ever loss against Charlotte as they host the Bobcats on Monday.
Phoenix (33-14) lost 84-81 to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, ending a three-game winning streak. The Suns are the second highest-scoring team in the league with 109.2 points per game, but were held under 90 for just the third time in their lowest-scoring night of the season.
The Golden State Warriors lead the NBA with an average of 109.6 points.
"We never got into a good rhythm offensively," said Suns forward Grant Hill, who scored 10 points. "I don't know if it was us or their play defensively. We never got in sync offensively."
Shawn Marion had 21 points and 10 rebounds, Steve Nash added 17 points and eight assists, and Amare Stoudemire finished with 16 points and nine rebounds for the Suns, who shot just 38 percent. The only time they posted a lower percentage came on Jan. 10, when they made 36.1 percent of their attempts in a 108-86 defeat at Utah.
Phoenix, tied with the Jazz for first in the NBA with a .492 field-goal percentage, fell to 2-8 when scoring fewer than 100 points.
"We just didn't have a great energy about us offensively, and I don't know why," Nash said. "We just never broke into our rhythm. It happens from time to time, but it's disappointing because we could have won regardless."
The Suns will have a good chance to bounce back on Monday - they are one of just two teams, along with Dallas, never to have lost to Charlotte (18-30). In seven games against the Bobcats, Phoenix has averaged 117.9 points and outscored Charlotte by more than 17 points per game.
"We didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but it's like (Suns coach) Mike D'Antoni said - if shooting the ball is our problem right now, then we can easily cure that because we're such a great offensive team," Stoudemire said. "But defensively we're doing good."
Eight Suns scored in double figures in the first meeting between the teams, a 115-83 rout in Charlotte on Nov. 6.
"That Phoenix team is a tough team. They play well together," said first-year Charlotte coach Sam Vincent, who suffered his first loss in that game. "They just kind of overmatched us tonight."
The Bobcats have managed to record their first-ever wins against two teams this season, beating the Los Angeles Clippers twice and Memphis once.
However, they have dropped their last three games, including Saturday's 117-101 defeat in Denver. Jason Richardson matched his season high with 38 points but managed only two free throws in the fourth quarter for Charlotte, which is wrapping up a five-game road trip.
Raymond Felton scored 14 points on a sprained left ankle, but Gerald Wallace, who leads the team in scoring at 21.2 points per game, sat out with a sprained right ankle. Vincent said he expects Wallace to miss about a week.
"We want to be more cautious than aggressive," Vincent said. "We're not going to push it. We're going to give him the time to rest."
Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited