The Phoenix Suns climbed to the top of the Pacific Division thanks to the NBA’s most prolific offense. Their last time out, however, they didn’t live up to their reputation.
The Suns look to bounce back from their worst loss of the season as they visit the streaking Los Angeles Clippers.
Phoenix was routed 119-90 Tuesday by the Sacramento Kings, who are in last place in the Pacific. The Suns, who entered the game scoring a league-best 105.4 points per game, had not lost by more than 12 points this season.
However, they trailed 65-43 at halftime and shot just 37.5 percent for the game, matching a season low. Phoenix had not lost in regulation since a 112-111 defeat Dec. 23 to Washington.
The Suns had lost a pair of triple-overtime games since then, winning 10 of 13 games in that span.
“We came out on our heels, and they just stuck it to us,” Suns forward Shawn Marion said. “They had their eyes wide open and kept on hitting shots. There is only so much you can do when a team heats up like that.”
Marion scored 25 points and Raja Bell added 19 for the Suns, but reigning MVP Steve Nash was held to seven points on 2-of-8 shooting and failied to reach double digits for just the third time this season. Kurt Thomas played 24 minutes, but went scoreless for just the second time.
“We didn’t want to play tonight,” Nash said. “You can’t really say why. You never know. It just sometimes happens when you play as many games as we do. We didn’t play any defense, which got their confidence going, and it turned out to be one of those nights when we couldn’t make anything.”
“It’s tough dealing with injuries, especially Corey Maggette’s, so you have to step up and play,” Brand said. “It’s not 100 percent, but I didn’t want to let the team down. The team stepped up and won two games without me against sub .500 teams. So I felt, as long as they let me, I’m going to play through it.”
Maggette is out with a separated ligament in his left foot and the Clippers are unsure when he will return. Sam Cassell, who had 25 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, is questionable for this game with a sore lower back.
The Clippers, who entered Tuesday’s game with an NBA-best 80.1 percent free throw percentage, made their first 26 free throws and finished 36-for-41 from the line.
“That’s the key to our team right there,” Cassell said. “We consider ourselves one of the top free throw shooting teams in the league. You can’t play on our team if you can’t make free throws in the fourth quarter. Everybody has to make free throws down the stretch, and right now we’ve been doing that.”