Suns News

Suns-Cavs Game Preview: March 25

Nash and Co. have won 12 of their last 17.
(NBAE/Getty Images)
By Noey Kupchan
Posted: March 24, 2012

Steve Nash matched a season high in assists during the Phoenix Suns' last game, leading his team to a much-needed win.

The scuffling Cleveland Cavaliers may want to take a lesson from the Suns' eight-time All-Star.

Phoenix looks to carry that momentum into the finale of a four-game road trip Sunday against Cleveland, loser of five of six.

After opening this trek with back-to-back losses at Miami and Orlando, the Suns (24-24) bounced back with Friday's 113-111 win at Indiana. Marcin Gortat and Grant Hill combined for 45 points while Nash scored 12 and had 17 assists.

"It would have been real tough to go 0-for-4 on this trip or go into the Cleveland game 0-and-3 and put all that pressure on ourselves," said Nash, who leads the league with 11.2 assists per game. "We got some good feelings back. Got some confidence back. So we've got a big game in Cleveland we've got to win."

Phoenix is tied for the second-best record in the league since the All-Star break, going 10-4 to become a factor in the Western Conference playoff race.

The Cavaliers (17-28), in contrast, appear to be headed in the opposite direction. Cleveland was handed its 11th loss in 15 games Friday, falling 93-80 at Orlando.

The Cavaliers trailed by 15 at the break, and despite cutting the deficit to seven late in the third quarter, couldn't get any closer.

"It was one of those games guys, where I thought; it's not Wall Street. It's not the stock market. You can't have the lulls we had. When we started off, we didn't play hard," coach Byron Scott said. "Then we started playing real hard. Then we went down again. We just can't do that. We're not good enough to afford ourselves that luxury of trying to play that way, especially against a good team."

Though shooting just 37.8 percent certainly didn't help, some of Cleveland's struggles Friday can be attributed to posting a season-low 10 assists. The Cavaliers are 4-20 when recording 20 assists or fewer and 13-8 when compiling at least 21.

"I just feel like we have to make regular basketball plays. When we are making plays for each other, it opens up opportunities for others on our team," said rookie point guard Kyrie Irving, who had 13 points and six assists. "There were times we became stagnate (Friday), but it happens. We just have to go back to the lab and work on getting better offensively and defensively. It is just about peaks and valleys right now. We have to have a consistent effort."

Irving had one of his better games when the teams met Jan. 12, scoring 26 points to go along with six assists as Cleveland overcame 16 points and 15 assists from Nash in a 101-90 road win. Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao, currently out with a broken wrist, had 17 rebounds in that game while Antawn Jamison scored 23 points.

Daniel Gibson, who had 10 points in the first meeting, is uncertain to be available after missing Cleveland's last two contests with a sprained ankle.

The Cavaliers have been limited to 40.8 percent shooting in dropping six of seven at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Suns have lost five of seven in the series, with both wins coming in a two-game sweep last season.

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