Suns-Bucks Game Preview
Known for their potent offense, the Phoenix Suns used a tremendous defensive effort to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks last month.
The Suns look to continue their dominance of the Bucks and win for the fifth time in six games Friday night at the Bradley Center.
Despite scoring 100-plus points for a season high-tying eighth consecutive game, Phoenix (31-28) saw its four-game winning streak come to an end with a 115-103 loss at Boston on Wednesday night. The Suns dropped 1 1/2 games back of Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
If history is any indication, though, they could get back on track against Milwaukee, as they've taken 34 of 39 in the series. Phoenix posted a 92-77 victory Feb. 2 as the Bucks struggled to get anything going offensively.
Playing without center Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee (23-36) was outrebounded 54-39 and shot 31.1 percent for its lowest mark since shooting 30.4 percent in an 87-76 loss to Detroit on Dec. 27, 2008.
Milwaukee, which has scored 90.4 points per game over a 4-10 stretch, was again without Bogut and not much better against the Pistons on Tuesday night. The Bucks, though, managed to pull out a 92-90 victory thanks in part to Brandon Jennings' 21 points.
Jennings had six points on 2-of-10 shooting against the Suns last month in his third game back after missing 19 because of a broken foot.
He was benched in the fourth quarter of Saturday night's 83-75 loss to Chicago but was glad to step up when his team needed it most Tuesday.
"That's just making plays down the stretch in the fourth quarter," said Jennings, who scored 23 points to lead the Bucks to a 107-98 home victory over Phoenix on April 3.
"That was something I asked for. I knew Coach (Scott Skiles) was going to challenge me. He kind of kept the ball in my hands in the fourth quarter, so I had to contribute for him."
Jon Brockman recorded eight points and eight rebounds in his first start at forward for Milwaukee as Bogut, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova and Drew Gooden were all out with injuries.
Bogut, averaging 12.6 points and a team-best 11.5 rebounds, and Gooden won't be available Friday, and the statuses of Mbah a Moute and Ilyasova remain unknown.
The Suns could also be short-handed, as Vince Carter and Channing Frye banged heads in the third quarter against the Celtics and missed the rest of the game.
Phoenix's bench outscored its starters 63-40 on Wednesday.
"Don't get me wrong our bench can start, so we have a pretty good team," said reserve Mickael Pietrus, who has scored at least 10 points in six of seven games. "So hopefully we can make that last push with our second unit to make the playoffs. Just play to win."
Steve Nash had registered double-digit assists in a season-best 10 straight games before finishing with seven against Boston.
Nash is averaging 19.3 points against the Bucks over his career - his most against any opponent - but he's totaled 19 in the last two meetings.
The Suns have taken eight of 11 on the road and conclude their season-high six-game trip Sunday against Oklahoma City.
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