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Preview: Nets at Suns

NETS VS. SUNS:

After beating the Phoenix Suns 94-91 on Dec. 1 at Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets go for the season sweep on Thursday night in Arizona. The Nets have swept the season series with the Suns in two of the last three seasons and if they win Thursday, they would extend that run to three of the last four.

The Nets have enjoyed their trips to Phoenix over the past few seasons, winning three of their last four games at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

BROOK LOPEZ GOES OFF IN PORTLAND:

Brook Lopez scored a Nets season-high 36 points on Tuesday night in Portland.

The big man had a monster night, grabbing 10 rebounds and tying a career-high with four steals along with his 36-point effort. Lopez’s 16 field goals were also a season-high.

Thirty-point nights are becoming increasingly common for Lopez, who has hit treinta in two of his last three games and in three of his last 10. If 30 is a stretch, 25 certainly isn’t as Lopez has scored 25 in six of his last 11 games.

Lopez’s numbers through 57 games this season are a stark improvement over the same time span last season. He’s averaging five more points-per-game (20.6 vs. 15.6), one more rebound (8.3 vs. 7.1) per game and has more than doubled his double-doubles (24 vs. 11) and 20-point games (31 vs. 15).

SETTING SUNS:

Calling these tough times would be understating the Phoenix Suns current situation.

The Suns have lost 12 straight games and 27 of their last 29 games. To put it in perspective, at one point this season, Phoenix had a 12-16 record, now 14-43. The schedule hasn’t done them any favors of late, as they’ve played the top four teams in the Western Conference — Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and the Clippers — in their last five games.

The losing prompted the Suns to make some changes, firing Jeff Hornacek and hiring interim coach Earl Watson. Phoenix also traded Markieff Morris to the Washington Wizards at the NBA trade deadline for a protected 2016 first-round pick, Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair.

KNIGHT OUT – CHANDLER IN:

Injuries have taken their toll on the Suns, who will be without leading scorer and facilitator Brandon Knight. Knight, who leads Phoenix with 19.7 ppg, 5.1 apg and 1.3 bpg, has missed 14 straight games and was ruled out of Thursday’s game. Knight was having a career year before his injury.

There was some good news on the horizon for the Suns, as Tyson Chandler is expected to return after missing two games with a bruised shoulder. Chandler leads the Suns with 8.3 rebounds this season and his return comes one day after backup center Alex Len sprained his ankle in practice. Len is questionable for Thursday’s game.