The Phoenix Suns struggled in the second half of January, but opened February by recording a season-high point total in the biggest blowout in the NBA this season. They’ll try to build on that win by beating a team they know can keep up with them offensively.
The Suns look to continue bouncing back from a rough patch Wednesday when they visit the Golden State Warriors in the opener of a home-and-home series between two of the league’s highest-scoring teams.
Phoenix (26-20) dropped seven of its last 10 in January, leaving it only a half-game ahead of ninth-place Utah in the Western Conference.
The Suns are in no better position after both teams won Monday night, but moving up in the standings will be a lot easier if Phoenix can deliver more performances like its last one. It outscored Sacramento 40-19 in the first quarter and never looked back in the 129-81 victory.
The Suns’ point total was their highest of the season, and their 48-point margin of victory was their biggest ever at home and the biggest in the league this season. It was a strong response to team meetings over the weekend that addressed Phoenix’s recent struggles.
“We set the tone early and we were able to sustain it,” said first-year Suns coach Terry Porter, whose team ranks near the top of the league with 104.5 points per game. “At the meetings, we were trying to get better and solve problems. We refocused on what we wanted to accomplish.”
Wins over the lowly Kings haven’t been hard to come by lately, but Porter thinks this one could have a big effect on his club.
“This win was definitely needed, from the standpoint of our confidence,” he said. “Maybe we’ll start believing we’re a good team.”
That attitude could be useful against the Warriors (15-34), who have struggled this season but remain a threat with their 106.3 points-per-game average, second in the league.
Golden State averaged 120.0 points in splitting four meetings with Phoenix last season. The Warriors won both games at Oracle Arena, shooting 52.8 percent from the field and outscoring the Suns 124.5-116.0 in those contests.
Golden State almost upset another perennial playoff contender in its last game Monday night, but came up short in a 110-105 overtime loss to San Antonio. The Warriors led by 12 early in the third quarter before giving up 12 straight points and eventually falling in the extra period.
“I don’t know that we could have played much better than we played,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said. “We were competitive and competed and did about everything we could do. … But when you have a team like that on the ropes you have to finish them off.”
Warriors guard Stephen Jackson had a season-high 33 points and matched a season best with 11 assists, while Monta Ellis added 17 points before leaving in overtime with a tweaked left ankle. Ellis, who missed the first 43 games of the season after undergoing surgery on that same ankle following a motorized scooter accident, is day-to-day.
Suns forward Amare Stoudemire took advantage of the Warriors’ thin frontcourt last season, averaging 27.5 points and shooting 66.1 percent (37-for-56) in the series.
They meet again in Phoenix on Friday night.