Suns-Bucks Game Preview: 4/3/2010

By Kate Hedlin
Posted: April 3, 2010

The Phoenix Suns are on their longest winning streak in three seasons. Extending that doesn't appear to be too difficult considering how they have dominated the Milwaukee Bucks for much of the last two decades.

Phoenix seeks its 11th straight win overall and eighth in row over Milwaukee on Saturday night to close out a five-game road trip.

The Suns (50-26) haven't been on a winning streak this long since reeling off a franchise-record 17 straight from Dec. 29, 2006-Jan. 28, 2007. They've also had the advantage of facing some of the league's weaker competition this time around with two wins over Minnesota and victories against New Orleans, Golden State, New York, New Jersey and Detroit.

Phoenix is coming off a 109-94 victory over the Pistons on Friday - the sixth straight game it's faced an opponent with a losing record. The last time the Suns took on a team above .500 resulted a 93-87 win over Portland on March 21.

Despite the surge, the Suns still only have a one-game lead over Denver for one of the top four spots in the Western Conference and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"We've needed every one of these, and we're going to need some more," coach Alvin Gentry said. "I would have never believed that we could win these 10 games and still be looking at the possibility of starting the playoffs on the road. This is a tough, tough conference."

Averaging 118.7 points during its winning streak, Phoenix is looking to avoid its first loss to Milwaukee (41-34) since March 28, 2006. The Suns are 33-4 against the Bucks since March 1991.

Amar'e Stoudemire has been a key to Phoenix's current winning streak. He leads the club with 22.9 points per game, but is averaging 27.3 points over the last 10 games.

"We're playing well, and whenever you have a 10-game winning streak, it is going to be fun," said Stoudemire, who scored 29 on 13-of-15 shooting against Detroit. "At the same time, we're playing for something, so we've got to keep this going.''

Stoudemire had 23 points and 10 rebounds in the Suns' 105-101 home win over the Bucks on Jan. 11.

Milwaukee is closing in on its first playoff berth since 2006, but has stumbled recently. After a 10-point loss to Cleveland on Wednesday, the Bucks fell 87-86 in overtime to Charlotte on Friday for their fourth loss in six games.

John Salmons scored 28 points, including a 3-pointer with 10.6 seconds left in regulation, while Andrew Bogut had 19 points and 12 rebounds. The Bobcats, however, got a key offensive rebound to preserve the win.

"We're playing well. We're right there in these games,'' said Salmons, who ended up with stitches over his left eye. ``It's just a couple of bad bounces here and there.''

A big reason for the Bucks' struggles the last two games has been poor play from rookie Brandon Jennings, who's shot 5-for-21 from the field and totaled 11 points. Jennings, who is third among rookies with 15.5 points per game, scored 14 in the loss to Phoenix in January.

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