Suns-Kings Game Preview: March 4
Posted: March 4, 2012
The Phoenix Suns have made the most of their longest homestand of the season.
With that six-game stretch about to end, the Suns look to match a season high with a third consecutive victory Sunday night against the Sacramento Kings.
Phoenix (16-20) was mired in a four-game losing streak when it opened this homestand, which surrounded the All-Star break, with a 102-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 19. The Suns have won four of five in a stretch that concludes Sunday.
"We have got to take advantage of every situation as far as playing at home," coach Alvin Gentry told the Suns' official website.
Jared Dudley scored 22 points and Marcin Gortat added 18 with 14 rebounds as the Suns rallied from an early 11-point deficit to beat the Clippers 81-78 on Friday despite shooting 35.0 percent. It was the Suns' lowest field-goal percentage in a win since shooting 33.3 percent during a 78-74 victory over Cleveland on Nov. 1, 2002.
While the offense struggled, Phoenix held Los Angeles to 36.8 percent shooting. Channing Frye had just six points and missed all but two of his 18 shots, but he posted 14 rebounds and helped hold Clippers star Blake Griffin to season-worst 6-of-19 shooting.
"If we are not going to shoot the ball well then the only thing that can keep us in the game is our defense," said Gentry, whose team is 9-9 at home.
The Suns have held their last five opponents to 91.4 points per game on 42.0 percent shooting, including 27.6 percent from 3-point range. That is a major improvement for a Phoenix club that had allowed visitors to US Airways Center to make 40.7 percent of their 3s before that.
Sacramento (12-24) has shot 29.8 percent from beyond the arc while going 4-18 on the road in 2011-12. The Kings, however, went 6 of 13 on 3s while ending a 10-game skid at Phoenix with a 113-108 win in their most recent visit Feb. 13, 2011.
The Suns snapped a three-game losing streak in the series with a 98-84 road win Feb. 11, holding Sacramento to 35.1 percent from the field.
Dudley has scored 41 points over his last two games against the Kings - both on the road. He's been limited to 39 versus Sacramento in six home games for the Suns.
Gortat has averaged 19.7 points and 12.2 rebounds in his last six overall, and had 20 with 12 boards in the home loss to the Kings last season.
Though Sacramento has dropped two in a row and eight of 10, it cut a 20-point, fourth-quarter deficit to five before falling 115-107 to the Lakers on Friday.
"These guys could have folded," coach Keith Smart said. "That's why this group is going to be OK. This group is going to come around as we continue to get familiar with each other, and they're going to play hard every single night."
DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points versus Phoenix last month. The second-year big man has averaged 23.7 in three career home contests against the Suns, but in his only game at Phoenix he was held to nine during a 103-89 loss Nov. 12, 2010.
Copyright 2012 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