Having the NBA’s best record can become more of a chore than an honor if the Phoenix Suns are unable to continue their amazing success. Just ask them.
“It’s definitely a nice thing, but all of this means nothing if we start going downhill,” Suns forward Quention Richardson said. “We can talk about all that stuff at the end of the year. We’ve got a lot more goals than just a great start.”
The Suns hope to build on the best start in franchise history, and extend their winning streak to six games when they host the Utah Jazz.
Phoenix improved to an NBA-best 18-3, the best 21-game start in the 37-year history of the franchise, with Monday night’s 121-100 rout of visiting Orlando.
With starting point guard Steve Nash plagued by foul trouble, Leandro Barbosa came off the bench to provide a boost, scoring 19 points as the Suns won for the 14th time in 15 games—their best stretch in eight years.
“It means a lot,” center Amare Stoudemire said. “It’s down to where I know we’re not pretenders, we’re contenders.”
Richardson scored 26 points, including 6-of-12 3-pointers, to lead the NBA’s highest-scoring team to its fourth 120-plus-point game of the season. Stoudemire added 21 points and Nash, limited to 27 minutes, scored a season-low six points but had 10 assists.
That’s what made Barbosa’s performance so impressive.
“That’s important for us because that gives Steve some rest,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said. “It doesn’t make us so dependent that we can’t do without him.”
Phoenix’s five-game winning streak follows a 97-93 loss to Minnesota on Dec. 3. Prior to that defeat, the Suns had won nine straight.
The Jazz have faltered considerably since a surprising 6-1 start, dropping 11 of 14 before Tuesday’s 93-91 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers. Mehmet Okur had 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz, who have won two of three since a six-game losing streak.
Utah is beginning a five-game road trip.