Phoenix (35-8) at Cleveland (25-18)

Cloudy Currently: Cleveland, OH
Temp: 46° F
  • Game info: 1:00 pm EST Sun Jan 28, 2007
  • TV: ABC
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Few teams may find things to complain during the NBA’s longest winning streak in seven years, but Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns are being extra critical of themselves.

The Suns (35-8) look to extend their franchise-record 16-game winning streak on Sunday when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are expected to have LeBron James back in the lineup.

Phoenix added to its streak with a 98-90 win over Milwaukee on Friday. It’s the NBA’s longest winning streak since the Lakers won 19 straight in 2000, and the ninth longest overall.

A win Sunday would tie the Suns with Boston and San Antonio for seventh place all-time. The Celtics won 17 straight during the 1959-60 season, and the Spurs matched that in 1995-96.

Although the Suns continue to breeze through the schedule, Nash, the reigning two-time MVP, was unhappy with how they played Friday. Phoenix shot 42.5 percent from the field—its second-lowest output during the streak—and had a hard time putting the undermanned Bucks away.

“There’s no rings for streaks,” said Nash, who had 18 points, 16 assists and eight turnovers. “We’ve had a tendency to really take people lightly and not be as focused as we need to be, and I think you saw that from us tonight.”

Phoenix had a two-point lead at the half and pushed it to 12 early in the fourth quarter, but Milwaukee stayed close and pulled within three with less than 2 minutes left. Raja Bell hit his seventh 3-pointer with 19.9 seconds left to give the Suns a 96-90 lead.

Bell led the team with 27 points, and Shawn Marion had 11 points and 23 rebounds. It was just the seventh time this season the NBA’s highest scoring team at 111.5 points per game failed to reach 100. Though their average margin of victory during this stretch is 13.2 points, four of the Suns’ last six games have been decided by nine points or less.

“It’s hard to feel proud about it because we haven’t been playing as well as we can for much of the streak,” Nash said.

One of the wins during the streak was a 109-90 victory over Cleveland (25-18) on Jan. 11. Since that loss, the Cavaliers have slipped and posted just its third win in nine games after rallying to defeat Philadelphia 105-97 on Friday.

Playing without James, who was sidelined with a sprained toe, Cleveland got 21 from Drew Gooden and 17 off the bench from Donyell Marshall.

“We have a very talented group,” said Gooden, who also added 10 rebounds. “When we lost our star, I said, ‘Everybody’s got to step up,’ and that’s just what we did.”

James’ injury isn’t considered serious, and his absence Friday was more a precautionary measure. Coach Mike Brown said Friday’s win showed the Cavs it can be a threat without James and his team-leading 27.1 points per game.

“It shows we have other weapons,” Brown said. “It’s the first time without LeBron, it’s a big confidence booster.”

The Cavaliers, 15-5 at home, have won two straight there over the Suns.

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Sunday, Jan 28