Suffering their first loss in more than a month might not have sent the Phoenix Suns into their Christmas break feeling bad. They may have been too tired to be disappointed.
Four days after having the longest winning streak in franchise history snapped, Phoenix hosts the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.
The Suns broke the team record with their 15th consecutive victory on Tuesday, 115-98 over Toronto. They were scheduled to play the next night in Denver, but that game was postponed by a blizzard that dumped up to 3 feet of snow on parts of the region and snowed the team in for two nights.
Phoenix didn’t arrive home until just over two hours before tipoff for its game Friday against Washington. The Suns pushed the game to overtime, but gave up 54 points to Gilbert Arenas and lost 144-139.
“It’s obviously not ideal to be on a bus for three hours and on a plane and come straight to the arena not smelling our best and not in our pressed linens,” said Steve Nash, who had 42 points and 12 assists. “But that’s the hand we were dealt. Maybe that did us in a bit tonight.”
It was Phoenix’s first loss since falling in overtime at Utah on Nov. 18, and first in 10 home games since losing to Dallas on Nov. 9.
“Everybody was fatigued,” said Shawn Marion, who had 28 points and 13 rebounds. “We got up the strength and went out there and put up a good fight. Next game we can start another winning streak.”
Though Marion and Nash were outstanding through most of the 15-game run, maybe the most encouraging sign for Phoenix was how Amare Stoudemire contributed.
Coming back from microfracture surgery that forced him to miss nearly all of last season, Stoudemire has averaged 21.1 points and 9.7 rebounds over the last 14 games.
Coach Mike D’Antoni played Stoudemire only 27 minutes against Washington, the fewest he’s played in a month, though he did have 16 points and 11 boards.
“I don’t think he had a lot of juice tonight and that is something that will come and go until he gets all of his strength back,” D’Antoni said.
The Blazers, meanwhile, had been pretty hot as well before losing their last game before the Christmas break. Their five-game winning streak—the team’s longest in nearly two years—ended with a 101-100 overtime loss to Toronto on Friday.
Portland wasted a seven-point lead in the final 4 1/2 minutes of regulation, and lost on rookie Andrea Bargnani’s 20-footer with 3.5 seconds left in overtime.
“We had every opportunity to win, but you’ve got to make plays,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said.
Rookie Brandon Roy had 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Blazers in his second game back from a foot injury.
The Suns have won seven of eight against the Blazers, including a 119-101 victory at Portland on Nov. 26 behind Raja Bell’s 30 points in the only meeting this season.
The Blazers have lost 10 of 12 in Phoenix.