Phoenix has won only once in its last 10 trips to Sacramento, but Arco Arena is no longer the intimidating venue it had been in recent years for visiting teams. The Kings have dropped eight of 12 at home and are 10-11 at Arco this season.
The Suns enter their first game there this season as one of the league’s hottest teams.
Of its last 11 games, Phoenix has won nine and the only two losses came on the road and in triple overtime—to New York on Jan. 2 and at Denver last Tuesday.
With All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire unlikely to return until March due to offseason knee surgery, the Suns have seen Steve Nash and Shawn Marion carry the team to the top of the Pacific Division. Nash, the reigning league MVP, is averaging 21.1 points and 13.8 assists in the last 11 games while Marion has averaged 24.2 points and 12.8 rebounds.
“It’s going to get even worse for the Western Conference when Amare gets back, and that’s scary,” said Cleveland’s LeBron James after his team lost 115-106 at Phoenix on Saturday night. “They’re a good team. They’ve got great guys and a great system.”
Nash had 24 points and 12 assists—his fourth straight 20-point, 10-assist game—and Marion had 25 points and 12 rebounds in Saturday’s victory.
The Suns shot above 50 percent from the floor for the second straight game and a season-high 64.7 percent (11-of-17) from 3-point range.
“I thought tonight wasn’t anything out of the ordinary,” Nash said. “We didn’t blow them out. We’re capable of beating good teams at home.”
The Suns are 20-7 since opening the season 4-5. Only the Detroit Pistons have a better record since Nov. 20.
The Kings are coming off a 104-100 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday despite being without three of their top five scorers.
Mike Bibby had a career-high 42 points to help make up for the absences of Peja Stojakovic (back), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (broken jaw) and Bonzi Wells (groin injury). Those three average for 48.2 points per game.
“It’s like I told the team, it’s a win we needed to get,” Kings coach Rick Adelman said.
While Stojakovic has missed the last two games and is questionable for this one, Wells is not expected to return until later this month and Abdur-Rahim might not be back until after the All-Star break.
Bibby, held below 10 points in two of his previous four games, acknowledged Sunday’s victory being an important one considering the team’s struggles at Arco.
“It feels good to get my career-high in points, but that doesn’t really matter,” Bibby said. “I’m just glad that we won the game. We need to get as many wins as we can here at home.”
The Kings are looking for their first back-to-back wins since Dec. 27 and 30.